- November 14, 2019
Families currently zoned for the new relief school, dubbed Site 49, under construction in the Horizon West area of Winter Garden had an opportunity to ask questions and meet their new principal this week. Orange County Public Schools, in conjunction with Orange County School Board Member Pam Gould, Orange County Transportation representatives and building officials, held a 40% construction meeting Monday, Jan. 28, at Keene’s Crossing Elementary School.
The school is being built at 16000 Water Spring Blvd., Winter Garden, to relieve overcrowding at Keene’s Crossing and Independence elementary schools.
Amy Klaber, former principal of Union Park Elementary, has been appointed to the principal’s position and was introduced to parents at the meeting. She lives in Winter Garden and said she’s excited to once again be working on the county’s west side.
“I look forward to meeting you and working with you and building your new school,” Klaber told parents.
Klaber has set up a Facebook page named Site 49, and she encouraged parents to check the page frequently for updates on construction, enrollment and other pertinent information.
A school-naming survey is taking place until 4 p.m. Feb. 8. Parents can go to goo.gl/forms/0wgfVe12fzsJ69hf2 to provide a suggestion. The top three will be announced Feb. 11, and both parents and students will be able to vote.
The land at Site 49 was cleared in August, and tilt walls were up by October. The roof and underground utilities were installed in November. The building dry-in was scheduled for completion last month.
The remaining timeline includes permanent power by March, a road extension and playfields by April, the HVAC chiller start-up by May and substantial completion by June 26.
Sustainability measures include native plants, energy-reduction lights that turn off in unoccupied spaces, water-saving toilets and faucets, daylighting in all classrooms and thermal-efficient windows and glazing.
Parents were then given the floor to ask questions of OCPS officials and of the new principal.
One asked about portables.
“Whenever we’re building in Horizon West, I always assume we’ll be using portables within 24 months,” Gould said.
Another questioned the enrollment process for the new school. Gould said that all students who live within the zoning area for the new school are automatically enrolled there. There is a clause that allows fifth-graders the choice either to remain at their current school or to go to the new one; however, their parents must officially do this through the student-enrollment department.
Will there be a gifted program?
If the numbers are high enough, there will be a gifted cluster.
Will there be before- and after-school care?
Champions, which offers care programs at schools throughout Orange County, will be in charge of the program at the new school and currently is hiring a coordinator.
Will there be clubs, programs and tutoring in place in the first year?
“We’re not going to not offer something the first year if there’s a need,” Klaber said.
Klaber said she expects to visit weekly with students at Keene’s Crossing and Independence elementaries so they will know their principal when school opens in the fall.
The school is in Horizon West’s Village H, in the Storey Grove development west of Avalon Road. The nearly 90,000-square-foot facility will have 837 student stations, parking for 125, a stacking ability of 141 vehicles and a bus loop with the capacity to stack 32 buses.
This school year, Keene’s Crossing is more than 600 students over capacity, and Independence is more than 500 students over.
The new school is projected to have an enrollment of 929.