Seminole Co. Schools need $27 million for repairs

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

Only Eyewitness News got an inside look at some of Seminole County's worst schools in need of major renovations.

This week, district leaders identified Jackson Heights Middle School in Oviedo, Hamilton Elementary in Sanford and Wekiva Elementary as their top priorities for capital improvements.

The repairs would not be possible without the use of a voter-approved millage increase.

School officials haven't said whether they'll enact the tax increase.

Even then, they're going to have to do it in phases because it will cost $27 million to repair all three schools.

The hallways at Jackson Heights Middle School in Seminole County don't even meet fire code. School leaders had to cut doors in classrooms to bring the building into compliance.

Allen Nettles with Seminole County Public Schools said if the fire were in one of the rooms adjacent to the corridor, it could burn right through the hallway.

"It's critical that this building be replaced," Nettles said.

Some of the major problems can't be seen from the ground. Air conditioning units need to be replaced at Jackson Heights and there are patches all over the roof from previous repairs.

The repairs are in addition to millions more the district wants to spend on repairs to other schools and upgrades in classroom technology that won't be possible without the tax increase.

"There may be a possibility for scraping together some of the money for this project without the millage, sort of robbing Peter to pay Paul, but certainly not enough to complete the project," Nettles said.

School board members are expected to decide in July how much of a millage increase, if any, they plan to impose on taxpayers.

They can take as much as a one mill increase, any smaller increment, or nothing.