Shovelfuls of dirt were tossed in the air on Monday, July 24, marking the beginning of a $22 million expansion project at Matanzas High School.
Elected officials, district and school administrators, teachers and students all participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking at the Matanzas campus.
The centerpiece of the project is a two-story, 20,000-square-foot building that will house a construction lab, classrooms for other Career and Technical Education programs and a second-floor media center. The current media center, which is next to the cafeteria, will be converted into additional cafeteria space.
The project will also include a pre-engineered metal building by the athletic fields to support the physical education and athletic programs and a new central energy plant.
The project is expected to be completed in 24 months. It is being financed by the district’s impact fees.
“We've talked about this for a long time, and seeing the work begin is exciting,” Flagler Schools Interim Superintendent LaShakia Moore told the crowd in attendance. “This brings life to the renderings we’ve looked at over the past year.”
Moore noted that the Matanzas expansion is the largest and most expensive construction project the district has undertaken since the renovation of Buddy Taylor Middle and Wadsworth Elementary schools, in 2010.
When you think growth, you think, 'OK, we need more classrooms,' but there's so much more that you need in a high school other than classrooms when you grow.”
— KRISTIN BOZEMAN, Matanzas prinicpal
“The whole project is so exciting,” Matanzas Principal Kristin Bozeman said after the groundbreaking ceremony. “The scope of it is really broad. When you think growth, you think, 'OK, we need more classrooms,' but there's so much more that you need in a high school other than classrooms when you grow."
The school had 1,500 students two years ago, and expects to have going to have 2,500 students three years from now, she said.
"So, you need bigger cafeteria space, you need a bigger media center space," she said. "You need more classrooms, yes. You need more storage closets. You need more offices. They really thought through that in the design, and we're really excited for everything that it's going to bring in.”
Bozeman said she is especially excited about additional classrooms for the CTE programs. The construction lab will include a covered porch, ventilation hoods and a service area with an overhead door for deliveries.
This is going to give us the area that we're actually going to need, so that we can complete all these projects and get (the students) job-ready.”
— ANDY DOUGLAS, carpentry teacher
“Right now, we have a workshop that’s the size of a classroom,” said carpentry teacher Andy Douglas. “With this new facility, we’ll be able to do things without bumping into each other. We’re going to have a gated area with an awning where we can build bigger projects, so they can work on bad weather days without having to be confined to the classroom.”
Douglas said he has talked to the Flagler Home Builders Association about a potential job placement program.
“This is going to give us the area that we're actually going to need, so that we can complete all these projects, and get (the students) job-ready," he said.
Like the construction lab, the new media center will be much larger than the current space.
“It's going to provide a lot of space for collaboration,” Bozeman said. “It's going to have some small-group learning spaces, conference room space, teacher workroom space.”
The construction site was cleared in the past month and has been cordoned off. Much of the area had been a parking lot. Most of the parking spaces will be restored when the project is completed, Bozeman said. The construction site cuts off a walking path.
“Everyone’s going to have to go (one) way now, but we will all just make room and be patient,” she said. “It's temporary, and look at what we're going to have to show for it in the end.”
SchenkelShultz Architecture designed the project, and HA Contracting Corp is the contractor.