Santa Rosa School District is looking to purchase property at the intersection of Edgewood Drive and U.S. Highway 98 to build future schools.
The school board gave preliminary approval to pursue the purchase Nov. 14.
Located directly south of the end of Edgewood Drive, the 41-acre property is being considered at an undisclosed price, but that number will be revealed Dec. 12 during a public hearing before a final vote on the purchase. The school board will receive two appraisals for comparison.
Assistant Superintendent Joey Harrell said those appraisals account for taking out the value of unusable land in the parcel.
“There are wetlands. There is a conservation easement located on roughly 10 acres along the southernly border of the property,” he said.
If approved for purchase, the land may be home to a new high school.
The district’s student growth projections indicate the need to build five new schools over the next 10 years. Among them is a new south-end high school to help alleviate the explosive growth at Navarre High School. Current enrollment surpasses 2,000 students, putting the school at or above its capacity depending on what time of year it is.
While dual enrollment and other flexible scheduling has kept the school from being in a bind, continued growth means the halls and cafeterias are straining to meet demand.
The district in October purchased roughly 63 acres in Pace, another fast-growing part of the county, to build two future schools. The district paid $1.6 million for that land.
That property has run into some concerns about road access due to requirements for multiple egresses, prompting school board member Jennifer Granse to ask if the Edgewood property would have proper road access.
The parcel already has access set at the stop light at the intersection of Edgewood and 98, and Harrell said there is a platted egress to connect the parcel to land on the east for additional egress. He said the district may be able to either flat-out buy the egress or partner with the neighboring property to develop that road.
And there is another option.
“There is enough linear frontage along Highway 98 that we could create a second egress,” Harrell said.
However, 98 is already under scrutiny due to daily traffic counts that exceed the road’s designed capacity and issues with current access points causing accidents.
And Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick has said in previous interviews with Navarre Press that putting schools directly on 98 is less than ideal.
“Certainly, it would be best to use the road we know we have at the lighted area as well as the far east (access),” Harrell told the school board.
The public hearing on the purchase is set for Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. in the boardroom at 5086 Canal Street in downtown Milton.