School construction

Rickards High School and Fairview Middle are set to undergo major changes. It's something Leon Superintendent Rocky Hanna says is long overdue. Meanwhile, other schools, mostly located in the Northeast, are getting crowded.

Leon County Schools

Leon County schools will spend more than $18 million updating and renovating schools and district buildings in the upcoming school year. The dollars will cover everything from new bathrooms to a barber-shop space at Lively technical center.  The biggest chunk of money will go to district-wide maintenance projects that keep schools and buildings operating.

MGN Online

Florida’s students can now attend any public school in the state, as long as there is room. And high school athletes now have greater freedom to switch schools as well.  These are just two of a series of new education laws approved by Governor Rick Scott.

A massive education bill is a step closer to Governor Rick Scott's desk. It changes everything from the way charter schools get construction dollars, to allowing school board members to join different organizations.

Sean Lamb / Flickr

A massive education bill covering everything from a teacher bonus program to school construction is rolling out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It’s getting to the point in the legislative session when trains start to leave the station.

The Florida House has approved several education bills changing everything from the way students can transfer to how how quickly they can advance in school. But some of those proposals face opposition in the Senate when they get there.

Construction of Leupp School / Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Florida House has moved forward with a proposal to reduce the cost of school construction and steer more dollars to charter schools. But over the objection of superintendents, the House Appropriations Committee approved the bill. But it could face challenges in the Senate.

Griffin Middle School is just one of ten schools honored t.
via Leon County Schools

The House Appropriations Committee will take up a measure limiting school construction spending, and steering more dollars to charter schools. The bill comes after Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, accused school districts of misspending on construction for new schools. Now district superintendents are firing back.

Meredith Geddings / Florida House of Representatives

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and the Florida Association of District School Superintendents are at odds over whether districts are overspending on school construction.

Griffin Middle School is just one of ten schools honored t.
via Leon County Schools

Florida schools districts may be spending too much on building schools. That’s according to a report compiled by Representative Erik Fresen.

Jackie Pons speaking with a constituent at a Village Square event in 2013.
Village Square

The Florida legislature's Joint Legislative Auditing Committee wants to know whether the Leon County School District has made changes to construction policies that resulted in dozens of projects not competitively bid. Lawmakers say they won't seek a review of legal fees paid as a result of ongoing investigations.

An outside consultant hired to investigate accusations against District School Superintendent Jackie Pons is reiterating his assertion there’s no criminal wrongdoing. The finalized version of his report comes as the district remains under an FBI probe of school construction projects the consultant says won’t end anytime soon.

Leon County Schools

The Leon County School board briefly floated and promptly sunk an idea for an appointed superintendent. It’s the latest conversation in the ongoing legal troubles of the district.

Jackie Pons

Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox is considering applying for another job—this time, as Leon County School Superintendent.  He's not the only one eyeing the district's top education job, amid an ongoing federal probe. 

Leon County Schools

A warrant issued by the FBI for the Leon County School District’s email server paints a dark view on school politics.  In addition to seeking information on school construction projects, the warrant also goes further with targeted inquiries about potential political motives in decision-making.

Jackie Pons

The Leon County School district says it will give the public a look at a search warrant executed last week once it gets approval from the federal government. The district’s email server was taken as part of an ongoing investigation into the way it awarded school construction jobs.

Leon County Schools

The Leon County School District is explaining itself to state lawmakers months after a disastrous audit. District officials claim they’re on the road to fixing the construction funding flop.

Leon County School District Superintendent Jackie Pons is upfront about the recent audit that found serious problems with the way the district pays for construction projects.

In the wake of a school construction funding scandal the Leon County School district has revamped the way it presents such projects to the public. The new version of the proposals rolled out Tuesday before the school district board.

LHatter / WFSU News

A sixth investigation into school construction funding practices in Leon County has turned up no criminal wrongdoing. Now the jobs of several district employees trying to claim whistle-blower protections are on the line.

A notebook disseminated earlier this year to various media outlets outlines charges Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons awarded school construction projects to his political donors. But an examination of the documents by the hired by the school board, has found no direct evidence of that.

Update 8:35 p.m.:  An independent analysis of Leon County school construction projects has turned up no criminal wrongdoing, but the district needs to do a better job of documenting its decisions. That’s according to the Jacksonville lawyer hired by the Leon County School board to represent it in investigations into school building contracts.

The Jefferson County School District is about half the size it was a decade ago. Fewer students means less money. The district was able to build a new, combined middle-high school about five years ago with state funding, but the district now faces controversy over whether the district should build a new elementary school to replace the one that’s falling apart.

Jackie Pons

Two new whistle-blowers have stepped forward in the Leon County Schools construction controversy. The whistle-blowers are both  Leon County Schools employees.

Sandra Davis, a worker in the Division of Facilities, Construction and Maintenance, filed for whistle-blower protection on June 4. In a letter to Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons, Davis claims school construction projects have been deliberately undervalued to avoid a competitive bidding process. According to Davis, contracts appear to be awarded to construction companies that made donations to Pons’ campaign.

Lively Technical Center / Leon County School District

The Leon County School District is facing a second whistle-blower challenge about how it awarded school construction and maintenance projects. The principal of Lively Technical Center, Woody Hildebrandt, says he expressed concerns about the district's contracting process as early as December 2011 and again in September 2013.

Hildebrandt also allegedly showed school district administrator Rocky Hanna an 80-plus-page document calling the district’s construction and maintenance project award process into question.

LHatter / WFSU News

Leon County School district officials are taking aim at what they call “politically motivated” attacks against Superintendent Jackie Pons. The district used a workshop meeting on construction to address allegations Pons steered construction contracts to his political donors.

The Leon County School Board will be discussing the districts policies on construction and maintenance projects tonight.

School board officials will take public comment and talk about how the Leon County District awards construction and maintenance projects to companies. Officials will also discuss how the district chooses what projects it will undertake and which ones it won’t.  

The meeting comes as the district’s superintendent faces accusations he and other school officials steered construction projects to political donors.