Manatee County Schools expanding to meet growth

The school welcomed 1,300 new students from 2021 through 2022.
lakewood ranch and freedom elementary new buildings
lakewood ranch and freedom elementary new buildings(WWSB)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 8:59 PM EDT
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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WWSB) - Manatee County Schools had two groundbreaking ceremonies for two new buildings.

Lakewood Ranch High School and Freedmond Elementary School are both receiving new buildings to help increase student capacity. LRHS is getting a two-story building that will hold 2,449 student stations with twenty classrooms. The building is expected to be opened in January 2023 with a project budget of $18.2 million.

Freedom Elementary is receiving a single-story building holding 280 student stations with eight classrooms. The building is expected to open in June of 2023 with a project budget of $4 million.

“It is vitally important that we’re able to keep up with the needs of the community by offering them the top quality buildings and educational facilities that they’re expecting,” said Saunders.

Manatee County Schools currently have around 52,000 students and according to Superintendant Cynthia Saunders, they don’t expect the growth of students to stop. LRHS currently has around 2,100 students with Palmetto and Parrish high schools around the same. LRHS principal Dustin Dahlquist said since he’s been working at the high school, he’s seen a couple of thousand new students come into the secondary level of education in Manatee County.

Manatee County Schools are currently renovating Haile Middle School and plan to add a new wing. The school system recently finished adding a new wing to Braden River Middle School. The new buildings are only one step in helping solve the overcrowding problem now, according to Reverend James T. Golden, Chair of Manatee County School Board, there’s still a lot of work to do.

“Twenty years ago this is what was predicted,” said Golden. “I’m glad we’re able to meet the challenge of today but now we need to keep the pace so that we can meet the challenges that we are going to face in the next 10 years and in the next 20 years.”

Manatee County School system was 62 students shy of their original prediction for students in their schools.