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|New Prototype School To Be Built At Harmony|
February 1st 2007 - |
At the Osceola County School Board Workshop held Tuesday night, Joseph Toth, a Schenkel Shultz representative and Principal of the architectural firm, provided details on the new prototype elementary school to be built at Harmony. Schenkel Shultz is one of the area’s foremost experts in school design.
In the summer of 2006, the Osceola County School District directed Schenkel Shultz to thoroughly re-evaluate the District’s two-story prototype design, and challenged the Architect to re-think the existing design. This was done with the intent of simplifying the elements of construction and bringing functional clarity and organization to the layout of the building. The new prototype design, to be forever called “The Osceola Plan”, has been created through a collaborative effort between the Osceola School District, Schenkel Shultz Architecture and Harmony Development. “This design is the result of many months of evaluating how to ‘enhance the quality of education by increasing efficiency, flexibility and accessibility for the community-oriented school,’” said Mr. Toth.
Highlights of the evening included a summary on:
Construction - reducing costs and making the building more efficient by:
• Reducing from 122,000 to 100,000 square feet
• Reducing and simplifying circulation and mechanical space
• Simplifying the structural bay spacing
• Reducing lobby square footage
• Reducing cost through repetition of structural members/architectural components
Site Planning – optimizing site usage by:
• Building flexibility into current Bus Loop for multiple uses
• Organizing site for community after-hours access and use
• Creating an iconic signature building for the surrounding community to enjoy
Toth stated that this prototype could be built on other sites in multiple phases, even though the Harmony site will be completed all at once. The estimated savings to the School District by using this effective design is over $2 million, and could be potentially greater based on the simplicity of the design layout.
Eric Houston, Assistant Superintendent, in charge of Facilities and Maintenance for the Osceola School District, told the Board Members he felt this prototype will be copied by school districts throughout the State. Houston praised the Harmony Development team for their input and help over the last six months to bring this opportunity forward. Harmony has donated the $4 million site, and has provided a line of credit to the District of up to $20 million, if requested, to build the school.
“The Osceola School District has found a true partner in education with Harmony Development Company. They continue to set the bar high for how a developer can work hand-in-hand with a public school system to ensure that schools are the cornerstones to vibrant communities, “ said Osceola School District Superintendent Blaine Muse.
Harmony’s President Jim Lentz also praised the District for their attention to detail and willingness to take into account how this facility will impact the community. Board members were very enthusiastic and wanted to know when this prototype would start construction. School Board Member Tom Greer stated that the general contractor is slated to be selected next week.
Toth provided the Board with a timeline, which anticipates construction to begin in July 2007 so the school can meet the August 2008 opening schedule. The site will front Schoolhouse Road and be directly accessible to Highway 192/441.
The school will be a K-5 facility, and will temporarily house 6-8 grade students who reside inside the Harmony development until a new middle school is built. Currently, a satellite campus for Hickory Tree Elementary School is open in Harmony.
“One of the most important things we can do as a business is support education through this type of partnership,” said Lentz, president of Harmony Development Company. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone. We appreciate the School District’s ability to work with us for the greater good of our children; they deserve a stable educational foundation.”
As part of the final agreement, Harmony Development Company donated the land (10 acres valued at $4,000,000), will subsidize over $600,000 to help operate the interim satellite school until the new school is completed, and will provide a $20,000,000 loan for the new school. This will allow the district to meet the growth needs in this part of the county in a timely manner. Harmony will have the newest school facilities in Osceola County, housing students attending grades K-12. Harmony High School opened in August 2004.
This isn’t the first time Harmony has played a role in bettering education. From various scholarships, sponsorships and land donation for the building of Harmony High School, Harmony has always had education on the forefront of their list of what’s important.