By Sharon Still

Growth in the Ruskin area has prompted the Hillsborough County School Board to select the Ruskin area for a new elementary school slated to open for the 2014-15 school year.

On the fortieth day of school in 2012, Ruskin Elementary counted 987 students, operating at 95 percent of state capacity and 110 percent of the Hillsborough County School Board’s rating for capacity, while Cypress Creek Elementary came in at 110 percent for state standards and 120 percent for local standards.

“Ruskin and Cypress Creek have a documented need,” said Lorraine Duffy Suarez, general manager of growth management and planning for Hillsborough County Schools. “The timing is perfect.”

She explained that state standards look at having every seat in the school filled while county standards make judgments based on programs such as special needs. “We prefer a lower capacity,” she commented.

She added that it is exciting that “Elementary School A,” as it is now being called, will have a new design and will be the first school in the area to receive the LEED or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design designation. LEED is a green building tool intended to lower operating costs as well as conserve water, energy and other resources and be healthier and safer for occupants.

Elementary School A will be next to Lennard High School which is located at 2342 Shell Point Rd. at the intersection of 19th Ave.

“We are looking forward to getting the new school open,” said Suarez.

On the school board’s agenda is naming the school and a principal before the end of 2013. Suarez says there will be a meeting in the community and a school board meeting after to set an attendance boundary.

Construction on the new elementary school is expected to start in late August. Rory Salimbene, general manager of construction for Hillsborough County schools, said Batson-Cooke Company has been selected as the managing contractor and that sub-contractors are being selected now. The estimated budget for construction at this time is $14.3 billion dollars. That money comes partially from the county’s impact fees which are charges assessed for the impact that new development makes on Hillsborough County roads, parks, schools and fire systems. Plans are to have the school completed in early July 2014 and an August opening.


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