Board approves $41 million for Northeast High overhaul
By Scott Travis Staff writer
Northeast High in Oakland Park will get new and renovated classrooms and lab space under a $41.2 million plan approved by the School Board on Tuesday.
The cost to fix the 55-year-old campus — which is plagued by mold , leaking roofs and faulty air conditioners — is nearly triple the original estimate of $14.5 million .
The $41 million price tag makes it by far the most expensive project in the bond program, although costs of many other projects are expected to skyrocket as well.
The original plans in 2014 were to renovate the entire Northeast campus, but district officials later determined conditions were worse than they had planned for.
School Board members decided it may be more cost-effective in the long run to demolish buildings in the worst condition and construct one new classroom building.
The plans call for constructing a 24-hour classroom that includes a “flex lab,” which is a room that doubles as a lecture and lab space. The district also will add air conditioning to the physical education locker rooms, which was not in the original plans.
Supporters say the poor shape of the facilities has hurt the school’s ability to recruit and retain students.
They say a school with more modern facilities will help the district compete against potential charter schools that are considering opening in the Fort Lauderdale area.
“Northeast has some outstanding academic programs. Changing perception can set it up on a very different trajectory,” Superintendent Robert Runcie said.
Three board members who represent western communities — Abby Freedman, Laurie Rich Levinson and Patti Good — supported a scaled-down upgrade. But they opposed adding the lab space; since they weren’t in the original plans, it might not be fair to other schools, and the district’s bond construction program could face a funding shortfall.
“We have been very firm about not adding scope,” Levinson said. “Many schools to follow have the same desires” for additional upgrades.
The renovations are expected to be complete by late 2019.
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