Lawmakers allocate $500 million to schools for construction through PECO program

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norman hall
Norman Hall at the University of Florida's College of Education will receive $19.4 in PECO funding

Florida lawmakers have approved a $500 million list of school construction and maintenance projects, including $207 million for state universities and $115 million for state colleges.

See the 2016-2017 PECO Capital Projects Plan here.

The Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) program, which is part of the $83 billion budget agreement, is smaller than this year’s $625 million education construction program and does not use any bonding.

The 12 state universities will receive $161 million for construction projects, the News Service of Florida reported in a story published in the Palm Beach Post. The largest projects include $19.4 million for Norman Hall at the University of Florida.

For that project, the renovations and repairs include an overhaul of the stately building’s “envelope,” meaning its infrastructure, including new roof, windows, plumbing, electrical system, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and removal of asbestos and lead paint, the UF College of Education EduGator News reported.

The improvements also include adding many student-centered features, such as configurable classrooms and meeting spaces, more space to boost research capacity, and even installing electrical outlets to support student technology needs.

Other significant project allocations  include $16 million for an earth ocean atmospheric sciences building at Florida State University; $15 million for the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University; $15 million for the School of Integrated Watershed and Coastal Studies at Florida Gulf Coast University; and $12 million for the Morsani College of Medicine project at the University of South Florida.

Meanwhile, 28 state colleges will receive $77 million in construction projects. The largest projects include $10 million for an allied health center at Hillsborough Community College; $6.5 million for a student center at St. Petersburg College; and $10.4 million for two projects remodeling classrooms, labs and a gym at Miami-Dade College.

The legislature’s budget plan also includes $45.6 million in maintenance funding for universities and $38 million for state colleges.

In the kindergarten through high school system, public schools and charter schools are each slated to receive $50 million in maintenance funding, the news service reported.

A half-dozen small rural counties are in line for $57 million for local school projects, including $19 million to begin building a K-8 school in Jackson County and $10 million to finish the construction of an elementary school in Hamilton County.

The Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine will receive $2.2 million for maintenance work, while Florida public broadcasting facilities will receive $3.1 million.

Among the special projects, the FSU laboratory school in Tallahassee will receive $7.5 million for an arts and sciences building and the city of Hialeah will receive $1.8 million for an education academy.

The construction and maintenance projects are subject to Gov. Rick Scott’s review, and last year he vetoed more than $53 million in university and state college projects.

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