By Rachel Christian
The Osceola County School District broke ground on a new 170,000 square foot middle school in Harmony Wednesday.
The school, which is slated to open August 2019, is the first of five new facility projects the district has planned for the next five years.
Harmony Middle will occupy 33 acres, and will accommodate about 1,400 sixth to
eighth grade students once construction is complete.
Officials said the Harmony middle school is being constructed as a direct response to rapid growth in the eastern part of Osceola County.
A $28 million construction contract was awarded to Moss in July to build the new structure, which will be located near Harmony High School at 3671 Arthur J. Gallagher Blvd. in St. Cloud.
Designed by SchenkelShultz Architecture, the campus will include a two-story academic building that contains the administration offices, media center, kitchen, multi-purpose room and 1,408 student stations.
Safety and security were key considerations during design planning: the site is fully fenced with gates for access.
In addition, the school will have a one-story, 800-seat gymnasium building, two retention ponds, a multi-purpose field with track, baseball field, basketball courts and protected wetlands.
The building construction will consist of concrete tilt wall panels, a steel structure and low slope roofs.
Funds to create the new school will come from district impact fees. Each new home or residential property is charged a fee based on how many students it may contribute to the county. Those fees were recently increased at a March County Commission meeting to accommodate the new school structures, including Harmony Middle.
Chief Financial Officer Sarah Graber said funds generated from a half penny sales tax approved in November 2016 only pays for the renovation of existing schools, not the construction of new ones.
Superintendent Debra Pace was joined by School Board members and other community figures Wednesday for the school’s ribbon cutting.
“The planning and construction of our new middle school in Harmony plays a critical role in the combined efforts to promote and support our students, as well as to further positive economic growth in Osceola County,” said School Board Chairman Ricky Booth.