With construction completed on the $9.7 million Cesar Chavez Elementary School, parents have started asking who will attend the southeast Oklahoma City school.
“We've been getting calls the past three weeks about enrollment, when is it going to open and can I come here,” said DeAnn Davis, the Oklahoma City School District's executive director of elementary schools and reform.
The excitement for the district's first new elementary school since Martin Luther King Elementary School opened in 2006 is spreading as the final touches are put on the two-story building at
Cesar Chavez Elementary will open its doors to students on August 1, the first day of the 2011-12 school year.
The attendance boundary for the school will pull about 500 students from the overcrowded Capitol Hill Elementary School and the rest from Bodine Elementary School, Davis said. Total enrollment for the first year will be around 600 students.
Constructed using funding from the $700 million MAPS for Kids sales tax and bond plan that voters approved in 2001, Cesar Chavez is approximately 75,000 square feet and can house about 750 students from prekindergarten through sixth grade in 36 classrooms.
This month the Oklahoma City School Board appointed Laura Morris the principal of the new school.
Morris has been the principal at Capitol Hill Elementary for the past eight years.
“She is experienced with Hispanic families. She knows this community very well,” Davis said. “The families at Capitol Hill really do appreciate what she's done. It makes everyone feel comfortable. They are a little scared. They are a little nervous about the move and when they see someone who they are comfortable with that will make it easier.”
Morris said she is sad to leave her former school building that last year had more than 1,000 students, but she has “amazing things” planned for Cesar Chavez.
She wants to implement project-based learning and a focus on the arts. She is in the process now of recruiting staff.
Enrollment at the school is projected to be 75 percent Hispanic. For 52 percent of the students, English will be a second language. Morris said just like at Capitol Hill, the school will have almost 100 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, an indicator of poverty among school districts.
“English language learners really need an early start,” Morris said.
Aside from the media center, which serves as a hub for the school with an arc of windows casting natural light onto rows of book shelves that will soon be filled, Morris said her favorite rooms are the prekindergarten classrooms.
Between Cesar Chavez and the next door Educare center that serves 200 students from birth to 5 years old, there will be 160 prekindergarten students being served in that school zone, Morris said.
Students from Educare will feed into Cesar Chavez Elementary, giving the community a clear education path from birth to sixth grade.