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Freedom, Liberty make progress

Staffers at both schools expect to move in on June 10. But only the middle school will be done by then.

By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 12, 2002

TAMPA PALMS -- Administrators for Freedom High School said construction for the $38.5-million campus is on schedule and they expect to trade in their trailer for new offices by early June.

"We should be moving into the main office by June 10," Freedom principal Richard Bartels said after meeting with architects Wednesday.

He and six others (including a data processor, bookkeeper, administrators and secretaries) will be the first occupants of the new 254,000-square-foot school, which should be substantially completed by mid July, Bartels said.

Liberty Middle School staffers said they too are anticipating a June 10 move to offices at the $17.7-million building.

But employees at the 118,827-square-foot middle school are much closer to calling the quarters home.

"Liberty will be completely done by June 10," said Carlotta Reeves, assistant to principal Deborah Rodgers. "We'll start accepting furniture orders and supplies June 17."

Community meetings have been held and PTSA organizational meetings are under way for parents of the initial 1,064 students. Officials are working to schedule school tours.

At Freedom, about 75 charter faculty will launch the sprawling high school; roughly 50 have been hired, Bartels said.

Also on staff are assistant principals Dave Brown (curriculum) and Frank Oliver (administration). So far, nearly 30 candidates have been interviewed for two remaining positions as assistant principals of student affairs.

Football coach Jarrett Laws, who will leave as offensive coordinator at Wharton High School, was hired last month to lead the Freedom Patriots. The only coaching positions left are girls golf coach and boys and girls cross country coach, Oliver said.

About 1,364 students will be assigned to Freedom in its first year, said Mark Hart, Hillsborough County schools spokesman. The school's capacity is 2,485, he added.

"We have mailed out fliers to all prospective Freedom students," Bartels said of a series of upcoming community meetings. "Basically, it's a chance for them to come meet administrators and our varsity coaches."

The first sessions are scheduled for 7 p.m. May 21 in the cafeteria of Gaither High School, at 16200 N Dale Mabry; 7 p.m. May 22 in the cafeteria of Wharton High School, 20150 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.; and 7 p.m. May 23 at the University Area Community Gym, 14013 N 22nd St.

Information on fall sports schedules and practice times will be available at the sessions.

"I'm sure parents are asking, 'Is that school going to be ready?' " said Bartels. "I'm informed we're right on target."

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