Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Manatee School District considers how to use vacant land to address growth

The district has three parcels totaling 186 acres in the Lakewood Ranch area on which to build new schools.

  • East County
  • Schools
  • Share

As growth in Manatee County is expected to add almost 30,000 homes in the next six years, the School District of Manatee County is busy planning what to do with its land resources.

Mike Pendley, an executive planner for the School District of Manatee County, said the district projects more than 7,500 students to enroll in the district based on that projection.

Pendley gave a presentation to the School Board of Manatee County during a workshop June 16 on school concurrency to show the board where the district stands in terms of future enrollment and potential land where the district could build schools. 

“The entire premise of concurrency is that adequate infrastructure will be in place to serve development as it occurs,” Pendley said.

Pendley said 29,000 development units seems daunting, but the six years it will take before all those units are occupied gives the district time to plan. 

“The other part is we have existing capacity in our schools,” Pendley said.

Based on the 7,689 students projected to enroll in the district, Pendley said the district would need to have four elementary schools, one or two middle schools and another high school to accommodate that many students. However, he also said district school's already have space to accommodate many of those students. 


“The bad news is the capacity is not necessarily where you need it to be," he said. "We have tremendous growth in Parrish, we have tremendous growth in east Manatee County, and you don’t have the capacities out in those areas.”

The school district has land across the county to help with addressing school capacity and concurrency. 

In the greater Lakewood Ranch area, the district has 44 acres just north of Braden River High School, 102 acres near Premier Sports Campus and 40 acres on Academic Avenue. 

The 44 acres near Braden River High School could become an elementary or middle school or a K-8 school. 

“This site is currently used for the agriculture program at Braden River High School,” Pendley said. “That was not the original intent. If you recall, we entered into a settlement agreement when we built Manatee Technical College on State Road 70. As part of that settlement agreement, the county went in and permitted a general school plan for an elementary, middle or K-8 school on this 44 acres.”

The 102 acres on the north side of 59th Avenue East and just west of Pope Boulevard is intended to be used as a future high school. 

Plans for neither the 44-acre property nor the 102-acre property have been finalized, and they are not included in the school district’s five-year capital plan.

The 40 acres on Academic Avenue off Uihlein Road is intended for a K-8 school. Pendley said there will be advertising for a construction manager and architect imminently as the project is on the district’s five-year capital plan.  

Other properties the district has within Manatee County include the 25 acres where Manatee Technical College’s west campus used to be, Duette Elementary School and five acres that is an outparcel for the district’s Professional Support Center. 

Pendley said the intended use for the 25 acres is to build an elementary, middle or K-8 school while there is no intended use for the five-acre outparcel or Duette Elementary, which sits on 15 acres. 

“Of the six properties that we own, four of those, I project, schools will be going on those in the future,” Pendley said. “You really don’t have a lot of vacant property you’re holding.”

Another future land opportunity to build a school is 20 acres within Schroeder Manatee Ranch’s Taylor Ranch development. The development, which is located on the east side of Bourneside Boulevard and south of State Road 64, is planned to have a maximum of 4,500 residential units on 2,307 acres. The 20-acre site would be used to build an elementary school.

“That is not necessarily a site we will be building on right away because the way the contract is structured is this is a raw piece of land and we want the developer to put in the roads, the water and sewer, sidewalks to our school site,” Pendley said. “It’s something to look at (the school board) should look at on the five-year plan, but we are not going to run out and build there tomorrow. It’s just not set up for that, but it will accommodate some of that future growth from Lakewood Ranch.”


Latest News