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Plans unveiled for new high school in Manatee County

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PARRISH, Fla. - Residents now have a taste of what the first high school in the Ellenton/Parrish area will look like. 

Images and other valuable information were disclosed during a town hall gathering Thursday night at the Buffalo Creek Middle School. 

"I'm kind of excited, I haven't heard very much," said Dawn Haushalcer, who lives near the site where the high school will be built. "I just knew they were thinking about buying a certain piece of property and all of a sudden I see that there's all this done."

The 260,000-square-foot campus will be situated at the corner of Erie and Martha Streets in Parrish and feature an auto tech building. There are currently six high schools in Manatee County and school officials say there is a tremendous need for this new high school.

"All of those high schools are currently over-capacity, so we really need this high school," said Mike Barber, director of communications for the Manatee County School District.  "It's our most fundamental need to give those high schools some relief."

Many people who live in Manatee County feel this is the perfect way to deal with the overcrowding and a lot of folks are happy with where it'll be located.

"It's a great thing, they need it," said Truddi Smith, a Manatee County resident.

"It'll build a little more congestion, but they're working on the roads now so it'll be better by the time it's built," said Bonnie Baldwin, a resident of northern Manatee County.

The $80 million project is being paid for by the half-cent sales tax, which voters passed in November.  Ground is expected to be broken this July with construction beginning later this year.  It's expected to be finished and ready for students by August 2019. 

"I'm very excited, I'm a Manatee County resident and we've built several schools in this district," said Tom Peacock, Vice President of Operations for Gilbane Building Company.

As for this Town Hall gathering, Manatee County's superintendent of schools, Dr. Diana Greene says it now makes this project a reality for everyone.

"The fact that people are here tonight, they can actually see drawings of the school, they can see aerial views of the property, it's starting to become, oh it's really going to happen," said Greene.