The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is receiving $9 million for campus improvements as part of the state’s decision to borrow $285 million for school construction and maintenance over the next several years.
In a decision made earlier this month, Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet approved Public Capital Outlay for the first time since the 2010-2011 budget year.
The additional funding is good news for FSDB which had its five-year master plan recently approved by the Department of Education for a renovation cycle.
Jeanne Prickett, FSDB’s president, said many of the buildings are already exceeding 30 percent of their replacement value and require imperative upgrades.
“If buildings get as high as 60 or 70 percent of their replacement value, it would cost that much money to get them up to speed and code. You might as well tear them down at that point,” Prickett said. “Our buildings right now are running around 35 percent. We have been trying to hold the line the best we can.”
Prickett said the funds are project-specific, broken down into three priority categories: Gore Hall, a roadway and bulkhead project and preventive maintenance.
More than $3 million will go toward fire safety updates in Gore Hall, the deaf elementary school.
More than $2 million will be spent on updating the road circling the campus as well as the Intracoastal bulkhead, which possesses 13 outflow valves for storm water drainage. Prickett said because the bulkhead is several decades old and separates the campus and marsh, several spots of the wall are crumbling and eroding.
The remaining $3 million and change is designated for preventive maintenance such as railing and wall renovations. That amount also includes bug treatment.
“We’re right on the water,” Prickett said. “So now we need to be careful about the mosquitoes and treat for that as well.”
All maintenance upgrades and construction projects at FSDB will be completed within the 2016-17 school year.
“We’re just very deeply appreciative for the funding,” Prickett said. “Especially for the elementary school, which is quite old.”