The new elementary school located along Porter Road in Horizon West is one step closer to welcoming students.
Members of the community heard from builders and officials with Orange County Public Schools as they gave an update on elementary school site 85-E-W-4 during the 40% construction community meeting Wednesday, March 4, at Independence Elementary School. The new school will be located at 15450 Porter Road, Winter Garden, on a 14.8-acre site. Construction is expected to be completed in June, and the school is expected to open in August.
Former Citrus Elementary Principal Delaine Bender will serve as the principal of the new school. She has worked in OCPS for about 26 years serving as a teacher for 10 years and serving as principal at Citrus Elementary for more than 10 years.
“I’ve been hiring staff this past week and looking for staff that do want to create that warm family atmosphere for our kids,” she said. “I will tell you there are lots of people who live out here (who are) teachers that want to work in their home school and bring their own kids there, so that says a lot about the community and the family atmosphere that we’re going to create.”
Byron Lastrapes, of Rhodes + Brito Architects, said one of the changes made to the school’s design was increasing the capacity of the student pickup/drop-off area. The school will have separate bus and parent pick-up/drop-off locations, as well as an expanded play field area with two separate playgrounds.
“We increased our (car) queuing on-site,” Lastrapes said. “It was a lot less than this (before), but now our (car) stacking is up to 174. I think we used to have 120 or somewhere in that area. We really wanted to increase that to make sure a lot of cars are not going to impact anybody on Porter (Road).”
Safety features include fencing around the perimeter, security cameras and a single point of entry during school hours.
The new school will relieve Independence, Keene’s Crossing and Water Spring elementaries. Capacity of the new school is 837, but it is expected to open with an enrollment of a little more than 1,000 students and will require 14 portables.
Families of students who will be attending the school currently are working toward selecting the name through a vote. The top three name choices for the new school are Summerlake Elementary, Lake Hancock Elementary and Hamlin Elementary. Once the community votes on a name, the School Board will have to approve of the name selected. After the name is chosen, the selection process for the school colors and mascot will begin.
“I’m going to be looking to the community and our kiddos to participate in determining who their mascot and (what) their colors are going to be,” Bender said. “That process will be going (on soon) and I know some parents are going to be excited about a PTA or PTO. That will be coming also around April so that by the end of the school year, we can possibly have an up-and-running parent association so that we can begin to open the school successfully with lots of parent support.”