Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

OakLeaf School Pressed into Action; the Facility's Opening Date Was Moved Up to Relieve Overcrowding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

OakLeaf School Pressed into Action; the Facility's Opening Date Was Moved Up to Relieve Overcrowding

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY MARAGHY

Inside the OakLeaf School on Wednesday morning, phones rang, walkie talkies buzzed, teachers flitted in and out of offices toting paperwork.

Outside Clay County's newest public school, sprinklers squirted the dirt campus and contractors hauled equipment among construction trailers.

Monday begins the inaugural year for the OakLeaf School Yellow Jackets, a fitting mascot for the hive of activity on Wednesday.

"I'm a mess," said Principal Larry Davis, who smiled despite bloodshot eyes and a 101-degree temperature. "We expected 1,212 students. We've got 1,491 students coming. We're hiring teachers as we speak."

Then he had to run to a meeting.

"It's awesome," said second-grade teacher Maureen Mastandrea, who was also running to a meeting. "I'm excited to be here."

The $19 million, 120,000-square-foot school, serving kindergarten through eighth grade, is expected to convert to a junior high within a few years when a standalone elementary school is built in OakLeaf, possibly in 2008.

The school is the first of five planned for the 6,400-acre OakLeaf development expected to have about 8,000 homes. The school was initially scheduled to open in 2007, but the date was moved up to relieve severe overcrowding at newly built Argyle Elementary and help ease cramped conditions at Tynes Elementary.

For now, OakLeaf School will house elementary school students in 52 portable classrooms behind the five main buildings. Sidewalks are in place but there's no grass yet. Kindergarten classrooms will be closest to the bus loop for easy access. The main brick buildings will house the junior high students, those in seventh and eighth grade, who will start school an hour after the elementary school students. The elementary students will begin eating lunch in the cafetorium at 10:30 a.m. and the older students at noon.

Reading coach Heather Petrosky, who worked at a very old school in Central Florida, said she's thrilled about her new assignment. …

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