During its work session in Bartow, the Polk County School Board was informed about two proposed high school sites to accommodate the projected increase in student population in the northeastern region of the county. The Bowen and Mcteer properties in unincorporated Polk County were identified as potential sites, both located along Lake Hatchineha Road within two miles of the Port Hatchineha neighborhood.
The Bowen property, situated at 0 Lake Hatchineha Road, was presented by Public School Development Solutions, a company that previously developed Scenic Terrace and leased the property to the district through a public-private partnership agreement. The Bowen property, formerly used as pasture land, is southwest of Marigold Avenue and Lake Hatchineha Road.
The Mcteer site is surrounded by the Creek Ranch property on three sides and is situated on the north side of Lake Hatchineha Road. The County Commission recently approved a land use change for the western-most portion of Creek Ranch, allowing for the construction of more than 1,800 single-family homes and a commercial district. However, residents near Port Hatchineha have expressed their opposition to this decision and have hired a lawyer to appeal the commission’s ruling.
Initially, the Creek Ranch proposal included a new high school, but due to local residents’ opposition, that site was discarded. The district has explored up to seven alternative sites for the new high school, according to Superintendent Frederick Heid.
During the work session, Joshua McLamore, the district’s director of facilities planning and operations, provided information about the two proposed sites to the School Board.
Depending on the selected project team, Public School Development Solutions would collaborate with architectural firm Harvard Jolly to design a 240,265-square-foot school. However, the original design did not meet the educational specifications required for the district’s desired programing in the building.
On the other hand, the Mcteer project would adhere to educational specifications for a 343,409-square-foot building designed by architectural firm Schenkel Shultz. The district intends to use the same project model it has previously employed to deliver new schools at this site.
The Bowen property consists of two non-contiguous parcels, totaling 332.63 acres, as indicated by county records. These parcels are divided by a strip of land with the address 0 Fire Tower Road, which is also owned by The Bowen Brothers LLC.
To determine the final location for the new school, the School Board will utilize a site selection committee. A vote on the preferred site is expected to take place by December or January.