Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Durbin Creek Adding 11 'Relocated' Classrooms

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Durbin Creek Adding 11 'Relocated' Classrooms

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Staff writer

Don't call the 11 new classrooms planted on concrete foundations behind Durbin Creek Elementary School "portables."

In fact, as Principal Patricia Falaney walked among the gray concrete blocks that soon will become her fourth-grade classrooms, she said even the proper name -- relocatables -- for the 22 sections that weighed in at 55,000 pounds each doesn't seem right.

"Locatable, they are. But relocatable once they are in, I am not so sure," Falaney said. "I love the design with the low windows you can see out; and woods all around the back so they have a nice green place to look out at each day."

Durbin Creek Elementary School was one of three public schools built by St. Johns County in the past three years to ease school overcrowding caused by rapid residential growth in the northwest area. Bartram Trail High School and Fruit Cove Middle School opened on time in 2001 and 2002 respectively, but both needed months of continuing construction to finish undone gymnasiums and auditoriums.

Contractors were still swarming over Durbin Creek Elementary in the days before its scheduled Aug. 8, 2003, opening, forcing the district to delay the first day of classes by a week. Bob Mathews Construction didn't finish the school completely until early spring, the kitchen the last part to be completed.

To add to construction woes, Durbin Creek opened with more than the 700 students it was designed to hold. So its fifth grade remained at Fruit Cove Middle School nearby. And because 780 students went home from Durbin Creek Elementary for the summer, the fifth grade will stay at the middle school through the 2004-05 school year.

The concrete relocatables are sitting in mud behind the elementary school's playgrounds, set in a U-shape, with five classrooms along the rear, and two buildings of three on the side. Falaney, who had been out of town, grabbed her camera to log the changes in the unfinished buildings.

"This will be called the House of 11 until the children name it," she said. "One joking name has even been 'the outhouse.' "

The new classrooms will be set up like those in the main building, itself made up of four interconnected sections called houses, each with eight classrooms separated by movable walls that open onto a common area so classes can get together to do projects. …

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