Things are progressing on schedule at the new Windermere High School, and construction is only weeks away from completion.
The building is set to be completed in mid-May with the staff’s move-in date set for mid-June, and it won’t be a moment too soon, said Principal Douglas Guthrie.
With dozens of positions still to fill and shipments of equipment scheduled for delivery in June, the to-do list to get Windermere High ready for the start of the 2017-18 school year is still exhaustive.
Over the last several weeks, Guthrie has been working with Orange County Public Schools to create a master schedule and order all the desks and equipment needed to fill each classroom.
“It’s making sure we have the right number of desks, the right number of computers in the media center, all the equipment for band, all the equipment for athletics,” Guthrie said. “Once we start receiving the furniture and equipment, we have to keep track of that and make sure it’s in the right room and in good condition.”
But right now, Guthrie’s biggest concern is filling all the vacant positions.
Currently about 48 positions have been filled, but another 83 remain empty. Earlier this year, the district put the school on a hiring freeze, preventing Guthrie from making more progress in filling his staff list. He won’t be able to resume making hires until early May.
“We have to wait until May 8, then we can start interviewing again,” Guthrie said. “We have almost 400 résumés to choose from and interview, which is why I’m pretty sure we’ll have this process done by June. I think we’ve got some very, very good teachers so far, and I'm sure we will continue that.”
Although the staff list isn’t complete, a training session and luncheon for the teachers has already been scheduled for mid-July. The goal is to help the teachers get to know each other, Guthrie said.
While the logistic of filling the school with staff and equipment is a work in progress, the Windermere High Parent-Teacher-Student Organization is already in full swing.
“The PTSO has been working very hard getting organized,” Guthrie said. “They’ve been out selling T-shirts, hats, stickers, magnets.”
On Thursday, April 27, the PTSO will hold its first meeting at 6:15 p.m. in the West Orange High School cafeteria to hold elections for its executive board.
But the PTSO isn’t the only thing marking a milestone in the coming weeks.
On May 10, the school will have a ground breaking ceremony for its football stadium.
“I want us to be the best high school in the state of Florida, if not in the nation, as far as performing arts, fine arts, athletics and academics,” Guthrie said.
But having been the principal of an empty school for several months, Guthrie said he is looking forward to finally having students bustling in the hallways.
Over the last several weeks, he’s visited several schools to meet and talk to incoming Windermere High students, and he said that their reactions have mostly been positive.
“The incoming students we’ve talked to are wonderful,” Guthrie said. “I’m very impressed with questions they had, and their comments were that they are really looking forward to getting to be students on campus next year.”
Before the first day of school, Windermere High will have a community open house on Aug. 2 and a open house for students and parents on Aug. 10. And once the school year starts, Guthrie said it will be up to the students to start creating the school’s traditions.
“All students I’ve meet have been very excited, and they want to get over here and start being a Wolverine,” Guthrie said. “When we get the student body in place, that’s when we can start setting traditions.”
Contact Brittany Gaines at [email protected].