Northeast Polk Relief High School rendering

A rendering of a common area within the relief high school being built near Davenport.

POLK COUNTY – Originally estimated to cost $84 million, Polk County Public Schools staff submitted an updated budget for the new high school being built near Davenport on May 12.

The school board unanimously approved the updated estimate cost of $110 million.

The high school, being built on County Road 547, near U.S. Highway 17/92, has no official name yet. School documents list it as “High School 19-AAA.” Previously, a school board member referred to the 330,000-square-foot space as the“high school of the future” for its innovative design features.

Jason Geary, a Polk County Public Schools spokesperson, said there were a few factors in the school budget increase. On April 28, Polk School Board approved the actual Guaranteed Maximum Price of $91,617,654.

“The high school site has been extremely challenging due to environmental issues, such as the presence of skinks, gopher tortoises and wetlands,” Geary explained. “The mitigation involved for these items was time consuming and costly.”

Geary said the construction market is also flooded, resulting in an increase in construction costs, especially for masonry.

“The scope of the project also changed to include a state-of-the-art performance center and fine arts suite,” Geary said.

After the county’s review of the project, there were additional infrastructure and roadway improvements required, such as road-widening and turn lanes that the school district will be responsible for implementing to allow for improved traffic flow for the school, Geary said.

In January, Polk County School Board member Billy Townsend described the school as being similar to the Harrison School of the Arts, but for east Polk County.

According to school documents, classes offered will include hospitality and hotel management, technology modeling and gaming, a fine arts academy, culinary arts, horticulture, landscaping, fashion technology, computer programming such as digital video and digital camera, and applied engineering technology.

The school will serve 2,500 students once complete.

School board members have expressed concern about explosive population growth in the northeast area of Polk County, suggesting that the school enrollment could be at capacity as soon as it opens.

Contact Charles A. Baker III at cbaker@d-r.media.