By Cindy Jo Ayers
During last week’s Legislative Delegation hearing held October 4, in Trenton, State Senator Rob Bradley and State Representative Charles “Chuck” Clemons were in support of funding the Gilchrist School District project.
Gilchrist County Superintendent Robert Rankin and the School Board have worked tirelessly to obtain funding for much needed facilities and improvements to existing buildings on the Trenton Middle/High School campus. Superintendent Rankin said on Monday, “We are ranked number one and we should get the funding this time.” The legislation has to approve the funding in this up coming session according to Superintendent Rankin. On August 3, 2017 this project was ranked number one in critical need by the Florida Department of Education Special Facilities Construction Committee.
Last year the $16,410,688 project was not funded due to other schools that were in need. So the school board was delighted when Gilchrist rose to the number one position to be funded this session.
Currently the cafeteria that serves Trenton students was build in 1957. Even with several additions and up dates through the years, the cafeteria is not large enough for the 649 students at the school. High School Principal Cheri Langford said, “It takes three seatings for all the students to be served.” A large number of students take their lunch trays to eat on the plaza, while 50 or more eat in the Media Center each day. Some students even take their lunch to the agriculture building. The principal is delighted that the much needed cafetorium for the middle high school is part of the project. Superintendent Rankin said there will be seating for about 300 but there will also be seating that slides out similar to bleachers. When switched from a cafeteria to an auditorium setup, the proposed building will seat as many as 1000 students. The location of the cafetorium will be behind the main school buildings off the bus loop.
The current auditorium will become the Media Hub (library) for the school. The current Media Center was built in 1964. The new Technology Hub will provide students with a location for state testing and 21st Century Learning. This renovation will allow the media center to be the Technology Hub for the school.
The project includes $5,474,170 for new construction as well as $8,105,000 for renovation, $2,276,518 for remodeling and $555,000 for site improvements.
Much needed improvements include new air conditioners, new intercom system, new fire alarm system, roofing repairs, and correction of drainage issues in several parking lots at the front of the school.
If all goes as planned and the funding is approved in this legislative session, the fund will be awarded in July of 2018.
Superintendent Rankin expects the actual construction will begin in the summer of 2018.