Alachua County School Board vote unanimously for new school in Gainesville

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ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. The Alachua County School Board voted 5-0 in favor of the Oakmont site being the location for a new elementary school on Tuesday night.

“If somebody is shocked, they haven't been following the process,” Alachua County School Board Chairman Rob Hyatt said.

Funding for the new elementary school will come from the new half-cent sales tax approved by voters in November.

“The new school “I" was always a part of the sales tax initiative and the plans for the existing schools is to modernize and renovate and create more appealing classroom spaces,” Alachua County School Board member Tina Certain said.

School “I" is the temporary name for the new school in Southwest Gainesville that will be funded by the new half-cent sales tax.

“While this elementary school is being built we are going to me doing massive projects at Idylwilde Elementary School, at Metcalfe Elementary School, and at Howard Bishop Middle School,” Alachua County Public Schools spokesperson said.

Their plan is to have all the schools completed at the same time in 2021.

“Over the course of the 12 years that the referendum is in effect, major changes, modernizations will be at every school in the district,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt said diversity for the new school is something they will be looking at carefully during the zoning process.

“It's really the job of the board to come up with zoning that's going to make sure we have an inclusive school population that's going to reflect the population of Alachua County,” Hyatt said.

The new tax is expected to generate $22 million per year over the next 12 years to support school infrastructure projects.

“The vast majority of the money that we're going to be spending is going to be going towards existing schools particularly those that have the highest needs. Those are going to get targeted first,” Johnson said.

She said one of the benefits of the new elementary school is to relieve overcrowding at a number of Alachua County schools.

"Majority of them are overcrowded at the elementary level," Johnson said.

The next step will be to hire an architect and contractor to build the new school and repair the existing ones.

The school board meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. in the Boardroom at the District Office located on 620 East University Avenue.