The School Board of Alachua County (SBAC) discussed the Idylwild construction and a potential project to add bleachers at Buchholz’s field at its regular meeting on Tuesday evening.
The board approved the closure of its programs at the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center and Alachua Academy. The facilities are managed by a third-party contractor called Sequel, who opted not to renew its contract.
Staff said the curriculum team is working on finding a new provider and contract before the board. Once approved, the school district can get new MSID numbers from the state.
The board also approved a budget amendment for the redesign and development of Idylwild Elementary School.
The amendment added just over $312,000 to the $16 million budget. The additions come from additions to safety and security, code requirement adjustments and other unforeseen conditions.
The project architect will reimburse the district $34,732.58 for one of those changes, elevating lavatories to meet ADA requirements. According to staff, the facility will still open in time for the next school year.
The board members discussed financing new bleachers at Buchholz High School that would allow the school to host football games instead of the current three-way split of Citizens Field that Eastside High School and Gainesville High School also use.
Board member Gunnar Paulson said the decision would save the district money in some areas—like busing players and bands to the field and hosting Thursday night football games. He estimated the cost could be between $50,000 and $70,000 per school year for the district.
The idea isn’t new. It was approved in late 2020 before the SBAC rescinded its decision in January 2021. Paulson wanted to bring the issue back up.
The design would add bleachers to the north side of the field and increase capacity to 2,738. The project would cost just under $900,000 and could increase if the facility is forced to expand its restroom capacity due to state standards.
Board member Tina Certain said she wasn’t sure how the project came before the board and that it hadn’t followed procedure.
For a project of this scope, the board would need to direct staff to get architecture plans and then put a bid out.
An initial motion was made, but upon questions to clarify funding sources and next steps, the board had to rediscuss its options. Paulson failed to identify a funding source, and to qualify for state funds the site would need to host two high schools and two middle schools.
Board Chair Robert Hyatt also expressed concern as to whether sales tax funds would qualify.
A subsequent motion to perform a spot survey—required for state funding—died without a second.
During commissioner requests, board member Leanetta McNealy asked for a joint meeting with the City of Gainesville to discuss Citizens Field and also requested for SBAC to return to remote comments.
Hyatt said he would place the remote comment item on the next SBAC agenda.