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Officials: New school will open on time

Various delays have slowed its progress, but officials promise new Pride Elementary will be ready for the first day of classes.

By MELANIE AVE

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


CROSS CREEK -- The parking lot is still dirt. The shrubs have yet to be planted. And kinks are still being worked out of the telephone and security systems.

But school officials promise the new Pride Elementary School on Kinnan Street will open with the rest of the Hillsborough County schools Aug. 9.

"We will open on time," Pride Principal Tanly Cabrera said from a trailer next to the school where her temporary office has been located since the spring.

Outside, the big trucks roared and dirt hung in the air at the school, still very much under construction.

Some visiting parents, seeing the construction site at the 80,000-square-foot school, have worried Pride won't be ready for their children, Cabrera said. But she said the school is in better shape than it looks.

Most of the children who will attend have been registered and most of the teachers have been hired.

Textbooks, computers and furniture will be delivered over the next couple of weeks.

As for construction, all outstanding projects should be completed by July 28, said Jill Edwards, project coordinator with the school district. The job is about three weeks behind schedule because of various delays.

Workers are paving the driveway and parking lot now and installing computer and telephone systems. Landscaping is scheduled next week, Edwards said. "That's the big stuff that's going to make it come together," she said. "It is going to come together."

At a cost of $7-million, Pride has a tin roof and brick exterior.

It will feature the latest technology, including a 30-computer media center and two more computers in each classroom. Teachers will have voice-mail in their rooms and will be able to connect their computers to television monitors.

Pride will feature a math academy program for mathematically gifted and talented fourth- and fifth-graders. Children entering second and fourth grades will have the same teachers the following year.

A sneak preview for Pride students and their parents has been set for 1-2:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the school, 18271 Kinnan St. The event will allow children to meet their teachers and visit their classrooms.

Pride was built to ease overcrowding at other New Tampa schools, like Hunter's Green Elementary, and will eventually hold as many as 946 students. This year, about 550 children will attend Pride.

"We look forward to starting out small," Cabrera said, "but we know we're going to be growing."

- Melanie Ave can be reached at (813) 226-3473 or melanie@sptimes.com.

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