The Monroe County School District is plotting and planning the construction of two new facilities, Plantation Key School and Gerald Adams School, and significant upgrades at Switlik School in Marathon. The total cost of these three projects could easily reach $100 million, no small sum.
Ideally, these new schools should be operational for 30-50 years or well into the middle of the 21st century. That being the case, should not these schools be the state of the art, not a carbon copy of what we currently have? Should we not be thinking of the future as we plan today?
The School District is faced with a marvelous opportunity to assume a leadership role in construction, particularly to build the most environmentally friendly and ecologically advanced facilities. The District has lagged when it comes to implementing measures with regard to the protection of the environment. For example, it most recently purchased diesel school buses when more ecologically advanced options were available and were recommended to the District. Similarly, the District has balked at opportunities to employ wind and solar energy, taking the posture that it was unwilling to spend the money but willing to work with someone else who would make the investment.
School districts by their very nature should be leaders in the community. As our School District submits its plans and proposals to the architect, the statement of work as it were, a premium should be placed on employing the most ecologically advanced and environmentally friendly techniques. Or, will we continue to send our 21st century children to 20th century schools?
Larry Murray, Big Pine
(Here is a follow-up from a friend)
All excellent points. Apparently that rarest of creatures is a bubba with vision. By the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if the school district could get some very valuable assistance in the design of a LEED certified schools by utilizing the expertise at the University of Florida. Their Department of Engineering and other academic departments have done some amazing things with the buildings on the campus and probably would be able to afford assistance through cooperative extension or other such programs. I attended the Public Interest Environmental Conference in Gainesville a few years ago where the theme was green building and it is amazing what is available through UF and other public institutions in Florida (e.g., the University of Central Florida maintains a Solar Energy Center in Cocoa).
It was disappointing but not surprising that the dinosaurs at the district went with diesel buses. The Great Leap Backwards.