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FUTURE FOUNDATIONS…

Manatee County School District get ready to open three new schools.

WORDS & PICTURES: Jessica Schubick

The Manatee County School District is growing! Jane Dreger is helping the District keep up with the demand for new spaces and new schools. Dreger is the Director of Construction Services for the Manatee County School District (MCSD). Currently, she oversees the construction of three new public schools in the District – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in Manatee County since 2007.

The projects include Barbara A. Harvey Elementary, a new elementary school in Parrish off of Moccasin Wallow Road; Dr. Mona Jain Middle School, adjacent to Gullett Elementary in Lakewood Ranch; and Parrish Community High School, located off of Erie and Fort Hamer Roads. All three new schools will open to students on August 12th for the 2019-2020 school year. The projects are funded by MCSD with bond proceeds and impact fees.

While Dreger oversees all construction for the School District, she works closely with her team, including the Project Directors for these new sites, to make it all happen. Regi Goff is the Project Director for Jain Middle School and Brian Mabee is the Project Director for Harvey Elementary School and Parrish Community High School. Dreger’s team is additionally in the late design stages for an expansion and renovation to Gene Witt Elementary on Rye Road, increasing the capacity of the school by about 200 students and 10 classrooms.

MCSD hasn’t opened three new schools at the same time since 2007 – when Dreger herself was Project Director for several of the new schools built around that time, including Bayshore, Prine, Anna Maria, and Miller Elementary Schools. The experience of working on those schools, plus the decade-plus experience that she’s gained since then, has Dreger well-equipped to oversee these projects. But she is quick to point out that this is a District-wide undertaking.

“The logistics of opening three new schools – it goes beyond Construction Services. HR must hire all new people and transfer people who are within the District. Finance and purchasing have to procure furniture, technology, text books, library books, and other materials. Risk management has to provide additional insurance for the new facilities,” Dreger explains, continuing, “So it’s really the whole entire School District preparing for this monumental task.”

Dreger is a Manatee County local, having attended Bayshore High School before earning her Building Construction degree at the University of Florida. She has been with the School District for 15 years. She says working for MCSD is a great way to put her skills to use, while remaining in her community. “It’s a way for me to do really cool, big construction projects without leaving the county. I had kids, so travelling for construction was no longer an option for me,” she says with a laugh.

Her children – a son, 25, and daughter, 22 – also attended schools in Manatee County. They both went to Abel Elementary and Harllee Middle School, then her son attended Bayshore High School for their dual enrollment program with SCF, while her daughter attended Braden River High School. Her son went on to earn a biomedical degree from the University of Central Florida and currently works for the Roskamp Institute. Her daughter currently attends Vanderbilt University in Nashville. She anticipates having grandchildren in the school district before too long. Speaking with Dreger, it is clear how proud she is of her children and how much her family means to her.

It is also clear how much she loves what she does. “When my job gets stressful,” Dreger says, “my favorite thing to do is to go to the job sites. Just to see it happening and to know that we started with an empty lot and we’re going to end with a school that students will be in for 50-plus years. That’s pretty exciting. So, when people ask me what I do, I don’t say ‘I’m the Director of Construction Services for the Manatee School District…’ I say, ‘I build schools.’ And people are excited; that’s pretty cool!”

NEW SCHOOL DETAILS:

BARBARA A. HARVEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Address:  8610 115th Avenue East, Parrish, FL 34219

Architect:  Hepner Architects

Construction Manager: NDC Construction Company

Prototype: Jessie P. Miller Elementary School

Construction Project by the Numbers:

  • $29 million budget
  • 20-acre site
  • 110,000 square feet
  • 838 student stations
  • 105,000 utility bricks
  • 80,000 architectural blocks
  • 400 tons of air conditioning
  • 46,000 work hours without accident

Quick Facts:

Named after Barbara A. Harvey, a long-time Manatee County educator who was the first principal at Jessie P. Miller Elementary, Director of Elementary Education for the District, and held a seat on the Manatee County School Board for more than 15 years. Mrs. Harvey visited the site in March for a walk-through. Harvey Elementary was built as an Enhanced Hurricane Protection Area (EHPA), able to withstand winds of up to 175 miles per hour.

DR. MONA JAIN MIDDLE SCHOOL

Address:  12205 44th Avenue East, Bradenton, FL 34211

Architect:  Harvard Jolly Architecture

Construction Manager: Willis A. Smith Construction

Prototype:  New to Manatee County, this school design has been used in Pinellas and Charlotte Counties

Construction Project by the Numbers:

  • $45 million budget
  • 27-acre site
  • 161,000 square feet
  • 1162 student stations
  • 189,000 utility bricks
  • 195,000 architectural blocks
  • 700 tons of air conditioning
  • 310,500 work hours without an accident

Quick Facts:

Named after Dr. Mona Jain, an accomplished medical doctor and school science teacher who left India in 1964 and began teaching in Manatee County in 1970. In addition to teaching in middle and high school, Dr. Jain also served Manatee County as the director of family health services for Manatee County Head Start and is a longtime advocate for women in science and mathematics. Jain Middle School features state-of-the-art science laboratory technology equipped for virtual and interactive labs.

PARRISH COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL

Address:  7505 Fort Hamer Road, Parrish, FL 34219

Architect: ShenkelShultz Architecture

Construction Manager: Gilbrane Building Company

Prototype: Braden River and Lakewood Ranch High Schools

Construction Project by the Numbers:

  • $90 million budget
  • 98-acre site
  • 285,000 square feet
  • 2150 student stations
  • 329,000 utility bricks
  • 38,000 architectural blocks
  • 1,165 tons of air conditioning
  • 195,000 work hours without an accident

Quick Facts:

Named with community input honoring the area’s roots, the school was built with a planned classroom wing addition to expand the school capacity to 2,500 student stations as the area grows. (This means that shared spaces like the cafeteria and library were built to accommodate the larger number of students.) The school campus includes full athletic amenities (football field, field house, concession stand, rubberized track, baseball field, softball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, soccer field, and lacrosse field). PCHS features a high school automotive program, agriculture program, and specialty healthcare programs.

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