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Construction projects progress at east Bradenton schools in new school year

Additions or renovations will take place at Freedom and Tara elementary schools, Haile Middle and Lakewood Ranch High.

Tara Elementary School will undergo a renovation and addition.
Tara Elementary School will undergo a renovation and addition.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • East County
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Construction crews are hard at work at various East County schools to build additions and work on renovations before students return for the 2023-2024 school year Aug. 10.

The school district is working to address the growth, especially in the eastern part of the county. 

Mike Pendley, an executive planner for the School District of Manatee County, said the district is projected to have 7,077 additional students over the next 10 years, with the most students coming at the elementary level at 3,255 students. 

Even with Lakewood Ranch Preparatory Academy opening its upper school, which will hold sixth and seventh grades and freshmen and sophomores in its first year of being open, there are traditional schools still over or near capacity. 

There are additions being constructed at Freedom and Tara elementary schools as well as Carlos E. Haile Middle School and Lakewood Ranch High School.

Plans for the new K-8 school, which will be the first traditional public school of its kind in East County, are moving forward. The district has hired HKS Architect and Williams Design Group to design the school and NDC Construction as the construction manager. 

The school, which is projected to have 750 elementary and 750 middle school students once opened, will be on approximately 40 acres south of Academic Avenue and a quarter-mile east of Uihlein Road. The district estimates it will open in August 2025. 

The long-awaited addition at Lakewood Ranch High School will be completed this school year and feature 20 new classrooms and two science labs. The two-story building will be located behind Building 5, and there will be covered walkways connecting the two buildings. 

Over the next five years, the district is tentatively planning to construct a 10-classroom addition at Braden River High School, construct a new high school near Premier Sports Campus, construct a new elementary school a mile south of the intersection of Rutland Road and north Rye Road, renovate Myakka City Elementary School and construct an eight-classroom addition at R. Dan Nolan Middle School. 

Take a look at the construction projects happening in East County this school year:

Freedom Elementary School

Eight-classroom addition

Freedom Elementary School's new addition will be ready before the first day of school Aug. 10.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • Project budget: $4 million
  • Estimated completion: July
  • Enrollment in 2022-2023: 572
  • Capacity: 746
  • New capacity with addition: 910

Tara Elementary School

Renovation and four-classroom addition

Construction begins at Tara Elementary School, which will undergo a renovation and addition.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • Project budget: $35.3 million
  • Estimated completion: August 2025
  • Schedule: 
    • Phase 1: Site work scheduled to be complete Aug. 3
    • Phase 2: Renovation of Building 2 scheduled to be completed in February 2024
    • Phase 3: Renovation of Building 3 scheduled to be completed in June 2024
    • Phase 4: Construction of addition scheduled to be completed August 2024
    • Phase 5: Renovation of Building 1 scheduled to be completed October 2024
    • Phase 6: Renovation of Building 4 scheduled to be completed February 2025
    • Phase 7: Renovation of Building 5 scheduled to be completed June 2025
    • Phase 8: Renovation of parking lot 2 and the bus loop scheduled to be completed August 2025
  • Scope of work: Four-classroom addition, improved traffic queuing, roof replacement, plumbing, new mechanical system, security upgrades to administrative and reception areas, removal of portables and more.
  • Enrollment in 2022-2023: 529
  • Capacity: 701
  • New capacity with addition: 773

Lakewood Ranch High School

20-classroom addition with two science labs

Construction on the addition at Lakewood Ranch High School progresses. It is expected to be completed in January.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • Project budget: $18.2 million
  • Estimated completion: January 2024
  • Enrollment: 2,439
  • Capacity: 1,818
  • New capacity with addition: 2,300

Haile Middle School

Renovation and 10-classroom addition

The renovation and addition project at Carlos E. Haile Middle School has begun.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • Project budget: $43.7 million
  • Estimated completion: October 2024
  • Scope of work: 10-classroom addition, roof systems replacement, mechanical systems, improvements to campus safety and security and more. 
  • Enrollment in 2022-2023: 735
  • Capacity: 889
  • New capacity with addition: 1,087

K-8 school

New school

Plans progress on the new K-8 school planned for Uihlein Road and Academic Avenue.
Photo by Liz Ramos
  • Estimated cost: $97 million
  • Estimated opening: August 2025
  • Possible phasing: Once the elementary portion of the school is complete, the district could move forward with the middle school wing followed by the gymnasium and the middle school athletic facilities.
  • Capacity: 750 elementary students, 750 middle school students



Liz Ramos

Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.

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