State budgets $1.52 billion for education construction work in 2016-7; schools seek more for future work

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The new student center at Seminole Community College/Sanford-St. Mary is one of the largest 2016-2017 PECO projects, with a $12,691,933 allocation.

The Florida state government has published a $1.52 billion capital projects plan for 2016-7 fiscal year for K-12, college and university construction and maintenance projects.

A nine-page document lists dozens of projects ranging from a few thousand dollars to massive ones costing $12 million or more. You can view the list here.

Meanwhile, state colleges want lawmakers to consider $167 million of additional construction projects over the next three years.

The three-year list of Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) projects is part of an overall list of $626 million in projects for the 28-school system, which handles about 780,000 students a year, The News Service of Florida reports.

Madeline Pumariega, chancellor for the state colleges, said the construction list was based on a number of factors, including the colleges’ priorities, how effectively the schools were using existing space and if the projects involved high-priority areas such as science, technology, engineering and math programs.
“The list reflects that,” Pumariega said. “But the need is there.”
PECO also provides construction funds for the state university system and the K-12 system, which will also be seeking millions of dollars in funding in the next budget.

PECO funding declined in the aftermath of the recession, reaching a low of $73.5 million in 2012. This year, lawmakers approved $625 million in school construction, which was bolstered by $275 million in bonds. It was the highest amount for the program since the fall of 2010 and the first time PECO bonds had been issued since 2011.

“I think our colleges have done a great job of stretching the existing dollars,” Pumariega said.

New Senate president Joe Negron has said PECO bonding remains a possibility for the next budget, although borrowing will continue to face scrutiny from Gov. Rick Scott.

The new budget will take effect July 1.

The top-ranked project on the new list is $5.3 million for remodeling classroom, laboratory and office space at Seminole State College of Florida’s Sanford-Lake Mary campus. The largest project on the first-year portion of the list is a $19.59 million classroom building at Pensacola State College.

Other major projects on the three-year list include $21.7 million for a dental-medical technology building at Palm Beach State College, $19.8 million for an industrial-tech facility at Indian River State College, an $18.7 million math-science-auditorium facility at Florida Gateway College and a $22 million classroom-laboratory-library facility at Santa Fe College.

At Seminole State College, construction, engineering, and interior design students took a detour from the classroom environment to tour the active construction site of the new Student Services Center at the college’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, one of the largest PECO allocations for 2016-17.

Senior project manager Steve Williams and senior superintendent Milt Taylor from CPPI (Charles Perry Partners, Inc.), along with Seminole State facilities project manager and Seminole State alumnus Ethan Burrowes invited the students to step on the ground where the 77,000 sq. ft. building will stand.

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