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The new school building will house 34 classrooms and an IT room on each of its three floors.
Sarasota Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 9 years ago

SSAS students, staff count the days until move-in

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by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

Last year, if you saw Sarasota School of Arts and Sciences teacher Della Lowe pushing her pink cart from classroom to classroom all-day long, you may have wondered what could possibly have her scurrying about the campus.

Lowe teaches language arts and science. But the school building had run out of available classrooms, and that meant Lowe had to teach classes during other teachers’ planning periods.

Other staff members, such as Zachary Meek, who handles the school’s IT support, are also working out of odd spaces. His office is just outside two restrooms, tucked into the corner next to the coffee pot. Last year, he shared the space with the Coke and snack machine, as well.

“We’re using the cafeteria as three separate classrooms,” says Principal Dr. Marilyn Highland. “Not only are two members of the team teaching classes in a non-permanent space, but during one of the periods, they’re rolling carts to different classrooms to teach that class. The strain and morale when you have to do that … the building was supposed to be ready over summer.”

The current main school building, once a car dealership and plumbing warehouse, houses 17 classrooms and sliding walls that create three extra classrooms. The school, which will be demolished after the move, has rented seven spaces in The Renaissance building for the past two years, plus a dance studio for the dance and martial arts classes.

The anticipated move-in date for the new building, located just north of the existing building, is Dec. 12.

The new building, which cost $5 million to construct, will house four classrooms on the first floor; 16 classrooms on the second, plus a technology classroom with a shop lab connected to it; and 14 classrooms on the third floor. Still to come is a gymnasium, projected to cost $1.5 million.

“This (current) building is old, and it’s starting to need repairs,” Highland says. “(This year) we increased our enrollment from 680 to 750 students, our maximum, and we absolutely needed more space to be able to house that many kids and classrooms. We are in our 15th year, and we’re sort of looking at this change like we’re getting the real and grown up version of the school. It’s looking really good.”

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