Shade Planning for Schools

29 Shade Planning for America’s Schools Chapter 4 Pinellas County, Florida Pinellas County, Florida, is located on a peninsula bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. The 280-square-mile county is home to about 921,500 year-round residents and welcomes an average of 4.5 million visitors each year. Unemployment in Pinellas County tends to be lower than the Florida state average, which tends to be lower than the national average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the per capita income for the year 1999 was just under $24,000, and 12.8% of the county’s population lived below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s poverty guidelines. With 114 elementary, middle, and secondary schools, the Pinellas County School District is the 7th largest district in Florida and the 21st largest in the United States. Image source: Getting Started By 1995, parents and teachers in several of Pinellas County’s 82 elementary schools had become concerned about their schools’ lack of indoor gymnasium facilities. Physical education classes had to be taught outdoors throughout the year and were canceled when inclement weather required it. The Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) in those few schools took the initiative to conduct fund-raisers, such as bake sales and jog-a-thons, to collect the $35,000 that each school would need to erect a weather-protected outdoor play area. The schools tapped local expertise in determining the best design for the structures and for executing the construction. In 2002, the local PTA efforts in Pinellas County paid off for all elementary school children in the county, prompting the Pinellas County school board to determine that all 82 elementary schools in the county should have similar structures to protect students, teachers, and staff. Walter Miller, associate superintendent of institutional services, cites health and medical concerns as the rationale for the school board’s decision, “We ensure that the students, faculty, and staff have a clean and safe environment inside of the school, so it’s only right that we are concerned about the environment outside of the school as well. Children and physical education teachers were exposed to extreme heat and put at risk for skin cancer, which in Florida is a major concern, so the shade structures buy students and teachers the opportunity to escape the heat and exposure to ultraviolet radiation.” Building Costs Funding for the construction has been supported through the school district’s capital budget. The school district’s facilities department identified a general contractor to oversee construction of the buildings, and the contractor received bids from a number of