May 22, 2018
Polk County Public Schools officials on Tuesday broke ground for a major renovation to Bartow High School.
The school district will be adding a new, two-story building and Construction Academy, as well as renovating and adding more space to the Culinary Arts building. In total, the new buildings and addition will encompass more than 64,000 square feet.
As part of the $17.5 million project, six buildings at the school will be completely demolished, and a seventh will be partially demolished. All of these structures set are older than 55 years and no longer meet the needs of students.
“This is something that is long overdue and I’m happy to be part of it,” said Superintendent Jacqueline M. Byrd during the groundbreaking ceremony at BHS.
“With all the rain, there is always a refresh. Today we begin the refresh of Bartow High School. This is something we’ve waited a long time for, and this is something the Bartow community deserves.”
Construction begins this week and is expected to last through fall 2019.
The renovation is being made possible by the half-cent sales tax referendum approved in 2003 that pays for the school district’s critical building and capacity needs.
“Your tax dollars have been well spent over these past 15 years. Your dollars have been well spent in our classrooms to improve the quality of education,” said Ashley Troutman, chairman of the school district’s half-cent sales tax oversight committee, during the groundbreaking. “I want to encourage Polk County to continue to support the sales tax so we can continue to spend those dollars wisely within our community.”
School Board member Hazel Sellers, who represents the district that includes BHS, added:
“This has been a long, long time coming,” she said. “The buildings that we’re going to build will be built so that they can best suit our students. This project is the perfect example of putting students first.”
School Board member Billy Townsend was also in attendance and said:
“What this represents is a community investing in itself. This did not happen by accident. This happened because a community decided that we have a future that’s worth sacrificing for, spending for and investing in, and I’m proud to be here today to be part of that.”
Bartow Mayor Leo Longworth said:
“It’s very important for schools and cities to work together to achieve success for the community. That’s what we have been doing in Bartow,” he said. “Great schools facilitate economic development —businesses, people, housing. That’s what we’re striving for in Bartow. This renovation will be a game changer.”
During the construction process, students will attend classes in portable classrooms, moving into the newly constructed and renovated buildings as they are completed.