ENGLEWOOD, Fla. - It's your money, and tens of millions of dollars are going to completely make over two Charlotte County schools. Thursday morning, more than a dozen golden shovels dug the next chapter for Lemon Bay High School.
"We thought it would be maybe another 10 years or so before we could put the money together with district funds to rebuild Lemon Bay, so this is 6 or 7 years earlier than we thought," Superintendent Dave Gayler said.
The 50 year-old school, originally built as an elementary, will be torn down in stages so students can still attend, and rebuilt with $40 million in federal stimulus money.
"It's already the best high school in Florida, it'll be the finest facility in the state of Florida!" Lemon Bay Principal Dan Jeffers excited yelled to the crowd of students.
This renovation was supposed to happen in 2004, but Hurricane Charley put those plans on hold. It was supposed to happen in 2007 with the help of a tax referendum, but that was voted down. "They say patience is a virtue and good things come to those who wait," School Board member Andrea Messina said. "Well, we've been patient and God knows we've waited."
To combat flooding, the new facility will be built 4 feet higher. But some students won't get to roam the new halls. "For it to actually start happening is really cool," Student Government President Lori Golonka said. "Even though we wont be here for it, we're still really excited." The first phase, a 3-story classroom building, should be up within a year and a half.
Lemon Bay H.S. isn't the only school getting a makeover. Meadow Park Elementary was awarded $20 million through the same federal stimulus program. That groundbreaking is Friday at 9 a.m.