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Manatee School District reaches land deal with SMR Taylor Ranch for new school

The new elementary school will help address population growth in East County.

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The School District of Manatee County will purchase land from Schroeder Manatee Ranch Taylor Ranch for a future elementary school.

The 20 acres of land is about 1.25 miles east of Bourneside Boulevard and adjacent to the extension of 44th Avenue East in East County. 

The School Board of Manatee County unanimously approved the purchase of the land during a regular meeting July 26. 

The agreement between the district and SMR Taylor Ranch depends on SMR Taylor Ranch making utility and roadway improvements to the site. Closing on the property will occur after SMR Taylor Ranch completes the improvements, which will be no later than Dec. 31, 2026. 

The sale price of the 20 acres will be based on the average of two appraisals of the elementary school site.

Cynthia Saunders, the superintendent of the School District of Manatee County, said the purchase of the land will help address the growth in the area. 

“It keeps us in compliance with the growth that we are seeing in the county and ensuring parents are going to have a quality school, a quality building, a quality facility and quality staff,” Saunders said. 

Mike Pendley, an executive planner for the School District of Manatee County, said from the Heritage Harbour community eastward and from south of the Manatee River to State Road 70, there are 12,214 dwellings approved that have yet to be built.

“Those are ready or almost ready, I mean within months, to pull building permits,” Pendley said. “That doesn’t mean they’re going to pull the permits that fast because the market will only absorb so much. I happen to live in that area and I ride around to the east of me quite a bit looking at the development that’s occurring now and there are a lot of rooftops that are underway.”

Pendley said there are 17,254 more dwellings in the entitlement process as well. 

“It’s likely that would be at least another year, two years before they get all their approvals and are ready to pull permits,” Pendley said. “A lot can happen in that timeframe.”

Pendley said the district can expect an additional 3,605 elementary students because of those homes under construction or in the planning stages. 

Pendley said the new K-8 school planned for Lakewood Ranch will host 974 students. The completed addition at Gene Witt Elementary School and the planned addition at Freedom Elementary School and available capacity at other elementary schools in the area will provide space for 982 elementary students. 

“We’re outrunning (the growth) but it’s catching up,” Pendley said. “We’re looking in the rearview mirror, and it’s getting closer.”


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