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Haile Middle, Tara Elementary projects moved up

School Board of Manatee County approves resolution to borrow up to $100 million to accelerate capital projects.

Tara Elementary School's Maya Taggert works on an assignment during class. Students and staff will see upgraded buildings with the renovation planned at Tara Elementary School.
Tara Elementary School's Maya Taggert works on an assignment during class. Students and staff will see upgraded buildings with the renovation planned at Tara Elementary School.
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Next year, Carlos E. Haile Middle School will celebrate 25 years since the school opened.

As the school celebrates, the School District of Manatee County will be working on the school’s renovation and 10-classroom addition.

“It’s fantastic news for our students and staff to have things updated,” said Kate Barlaug, the principal at Haile. “Next year we’re celebrating 25 years, so she’s due for a bit of a face-lift.” 

The district is able to move forward on the renovation and addition at Haile earlier than expected after the School Board of Manatee County unanimously approved a resolution that would allow the district to borrow up to $100 million for capital projects.

“We had an extensive series of workshops on this issue,” board member Scott Hopes said. “We had an engineering study that identified the needs of the district for numerous renovations and additions and capital projects. As we discussed, with the cost of money as low as it is and the inflation costs of moving these projects out into the five-, six-, seven-year period, this is the right thing to do for the district.”

The new funding will go toward six capital projects that were slated to start in 2023-2024 or later. Besides the renovation at Haile, the district plans to complete renovations at Tara and Blackburn elementary schools, install additional security fencing at facilities around the district, replace a building at Southeast High School and replace the grandstands at Manatee High School.

Tim Bargeron, the associate superintendent of finance for the district, projects the district could save about $8 million by borrowing money now to complete the projects in comparison to waiting years to start the projects.

Both Barlaug and Laura Campbell, the principal of Tara Elementary School, are excited to see the renovations and additions planned for their schools being moved up by a few years.

Tara Elementary’s renovation was originally scheduled to begin in 2023-24 while Haile’s was originally scheduled in 2024-25.

Haile can expect a 10-classroom addition to be built on campus and the school to receive a renovation that includes an HVAC renovation, new lighting, low voltage systems, ceilings and painting.

Although Haile’s enrollment, which is at 787 students this year, is down compared to previous years as a result of Dr. Mona Jain Middle School opening and the redistricting that occurred because of the new school, Barlaug expects enrollment to increase due to the growth in the greater Lakewood Ranch area.

Tara will have a new four-classroom addition, and the school will undergo a renovation as well. The renovation will include an expansion of the cafeteria, reconfiguration of the front office, new lighting, ceilings, paint and roof.

Campbell looks forward to the cafeteria expansion.

“We gather often with our kids, and we have performing arts shows in [the cafeteria], and it’s nice when we’re all together to celebrate our school and be with one another,” Campbell said.

Barlaug and Campbell are looking forward to the upgraded technology and furniture that will come with the renovations. Barlaug is looking forward to an upgraded media center.


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