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Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota County Emergency Services and the Florida Division of Emergency Management Partner on Hurricane Preparedness

SARASOTA COUNTY, November 22, 2019 – Through a collaborative effort with Sarasota County Emergency Management, Sarasota County Schools has received a $1,057,700.00 grant from the Florida Division of Emergency Management to make improvements to select schools currently serving as hurricane evacuation centers. The grant also provides funding to add Taylor Ranch Elementary as a mid-county shelter location.

Throughout the 2020 calendar year, Taylor Ranch Elementary, Fruitville Elementary, Gulf Gate Elementary and North Port High School will undergo improvements to ensure the continued safety of evacuees during a hurricane. Upgrades to these school sites will include wind impact protection for all windows, mesh impact barriers in exterior areas, including stairways and outdoor restrooms, and improved drainage systems.

The school district will also retrofit Taylor Ranch Elementary to make it the 12th general population hurricane evacuation center in the county. This location will better serve mid-county residents. The grant calls for an engineer to assess and make structural recommendations for Taylor Ranch Elementary to serve as an evacuation center. In addition, it enables the District to replace and install impact windows, wind impact screens, mesh debris barrier systems and improved roof and drainage systems. The upgrades to Taylor Ranch Elementary will add space for approximately 1,280 evacuees in the event of a high-impact hurricane.

“We are thankful to our State and local emergency management partners for assisting Sarasota County Schools with funding and resources needed to ensure the safety and security of evacuees at schools that serve as hurricane evacuation centers,” noted Jody Dumas, interim chief operating officer, Sarasota County Schools. “In addition to retrofitting existing sites, adding Taylor Ranch Elementary as another evacuation center will greatly improve our ability to serve Sarasota County.”

“Sarasota County looks forward to collaborating with the School District and the State to harden Taylor Ranch and other schools, increasing Hurricane Evacuation Center space for residents across the County, especially in the Mid-County area," said Sarasota County Emergency Services Director Rich Collins.

“Ensuring Floridians are safe during disasters is our number one priority,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “I’m proud that we’ve been able to administer this grant to Sarasota County Schools to provide residents with a safe place to go during hurricanes. I look forward to continue working with local governments to find real solutions that create resilient communities across Florida.” 

Sarasota County Schools will bid out the improvement project to contractors and engineering firms to begin to upgrade these school sites. It is estimated the scope of work will conclude by the end of 2020.

About the Florida Department of Emergency Management
The Florida Division of Emergency Management works year-round to prepare for, respond to and recover from the effects of natural and man-made disasters in Florida. Division staff work with local governments to provide technical assistance on emergency plans and procedures, and as a part of preparation and recovery efforts, the Division administers State and Federal grants to municipalities across the state. For more information about the Division and available resources to communities, please visit: Follow the Division @FLSERT and on Facebook at

About Sarasota County GovernmentThe mission of Sarasota County Government is to provide exceptional quality services in collaboration with the cities and to act as a financially responsible steward. Our high-performing county organization takes great pride in customer-focused services that add value to the community. Connect with us and follow county news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also follow Sarasota County Emergency Services on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Questions? Call the Contact Center at 861-5000 or visit our website,

About Sarasota County Schools
Sarasota County Schools is committed to providing unrivaled academic, emotional and civic growth to every student, every day. As one of the leading employers on the Suncoast, Sarasota County Schools boasts 54 schools that expertly cater to the diverse needs of over 43,500 students. We are one of two Florida school districts to consistently earn an A-grade every year since 2004 and have been awarded the Mid-Sized School District of the Year by the University of Cambridge. Our passionate educators empower students to take charge of their academic and personal success, a practice we believe fosters lifelong growth and achievement. We actively maintain the district’s tradition of excellence and ensure that tradition extends to all students. Our commitment to our students extends beyond graduation to make sure they not only graduate on time, but do so college and career ready. Want to take your student’s education to the next level? Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or visit