Despite having let nearly all of the projects in its current $3.5 billion capital improvements program, Miami-Dade County Public Schools still has a backlog of needs that could be addressed through federal stimulus funding.

“We still have hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘shovel-ready’ mode which we now have on hold due to reduced projected revenues,” Victor Alonso, design officer with MDCPS said in a recent email. To date, Alonso reports that the district has awarded approximately 90% of the $3.5 billion Capital Work Plan that was initiated in 2004-2005.

Among the projects funded by that program are a $74 million, 321,000-sq-ft North Miami Senior High School and the 250,000-sq-ft Miami Beach Senior High School, both being built by Suffolk Construction Co. of West Palm Beach for completion in 2009. Coastal Construction of Miami is working on an $80 million replacement of Miami’s Carol City Senior High School and a $16 million expansion of Southside Elementary School.

Since this program was initiated, Alonso says, “We have subsequently identified needs in existing facilities which are in dire need of modernization. Our district is now at the point where we are near 100% capacity district-wide, with isolated new schools needed.

“Our focus will be shifting to deferred maintenance, energy efficiency, renovation and replacement schools for many of our facilities built in the 1950s or earlier,” Alonso continued. “We also are looking at replacing ‘open-plan’ schools built in the 1960s and ‘70s.”

Regarding the potential for assistance from the federal stimulus initiative, Alonso said, “If there is any way of keeping our community’s needs in line for any federal economic stimulus, we would be greatly interested.”

MDCPS is one of the nation’s largest school districts. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 2007-2008, the district had an estimated 347,774 students.