New schools to open under construction | News
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Two new schools in St. Johns County won't be completely finished by the time students arrive on Monday.
Construction began early last year on Patriot Oaks Academy in the Durbin Crossing area and Valley Ridge Academy in Nocatee.
Both schools come with a price tag of more than $21 million and were included as part of the school district's five year facilities plan.
Approximately 1,000 pre-K through 7th grade students are expected to be enrolled in each school during their first years. Then, the schools will expand to include 8th graders beginning next year.
But First Coast News confirmed on Friday that construction on either building will not be done in time for their first days of class.
Wayne King, the principal at Valley Ridge, gave FCN a personal tour of the facility and said most of the remaining work is minor.
"It's a bunch of punch-out stuff. Some final additions," he said.
In the back of Valley Ridge, a playground is only beginning to take shape. In the gymnasium, workers continue to finish the floor and on the ceiling.
In the library and media center, boxes are being unpacked and shelves are being filled with books. And, in front of the school, signage has yet to be installed that shows people what its name is.
A district spokeswoman said the construction status at Patriot Oaks is running at about the same pace.
But while the unfinished work is expected to linger into next week and beyond, it is not expected to have an impact on classroom learning.
King said, "The classrooms are ready, so we are ready for instruction on Monday." He added that the school has shared a great relationship with contractors during the construction process.
Parents who talked to FCN shared his enthusiasm.
Christy Webb said, ""It's come such a long way. Coming here on Monday and coming here on Friday, there's a tremendous amount of work that's been completed. They're really doing a fabulous job."
Both Patriot Oaks and Valley Ridge are designed similarly.
They have four wings for the different grade levels; each with a commons area that can be used for interactive lesson plans and joint learning.
King said fifth through eighth graders will also be getting their own laptop computers to help prepare them for the digital age.
"It gives them the capacity to explore beyond the textbook," King said.
Valley Ridge is also the first ever neighborhood school for the booming Nocatee area of the county.