Group awarded $350K to fix up Hopper Academy wants $175K more



A local organization got a $350,000 grant to fix up Sanford's historic Hopper Academy on Pine Avenue in Georgetown.

Channel 9 learned taxpayers have already put hundreds of thousands into the rundown building, which will receive the $350,000 from the state. Now, a local nonprofit said it needs another $175,000 from the city for everything to come together.

Former Hopper Academy teacher Thelma Sheppard talked to Channel 9 about the school.

"You knew the whole neighborhood from Sanford Avenue back to Bay Avenue. Everybody came here to school," she said.

The building, however, was shut down a few decades ago. Sanford and Seminole County have spent $500,000 to fix it up, but the nonprofit is looking for more money to go toward the project even after the grant.

The school doesn't look too bad from a distance but when you get closer, there are major problems with duct work, wood panels, windows and electrical equipment to name a few outside areas that need fixed.

The building continues to deteriorate and some residents question if taxpayers are just throwing money into a money pit for temporary fixes.

Sheppard believes it's a chance worth taking.

"All the history would be going if you clear it down.  Just be a naked ground there," she said.

The Community Improvement Association, which is in charge of the structure, has not responded to WFTV's request for information about what it plans to do with the building once fixed.