The entire Stanley Switlik Elementary campus has been reconfigured. When parents arrive on Wednesday, Aug. 15 to drop off their children, it will be a completely new routine.

A new driveway has been installed that runs behind the Florida Highway Patrol and Department of Motor Vehicles building on U.S.1. Cars will enter on 33rd Street, make a hard right, and drive all the way to the cul de sac at the end, turn, and then drop off students as they exit the driveway at a brand new portico. Teachers and administrators will usher the students in the gates.

Security is much tighter for the 2018-2019 year. Parents will no longer be able to escort their children inside for “line up.”

“The only way for parents or adults to access the property is through the office. They either come in the office, take care of business and leave by the same door, or they get a pass and are allowed on campus,” said principal Brett Unke. “Security has been significantly enhanced. Access to campus will be very well-managed and restricted. We’ve installed cameras and have a 10-foot fence all the way around the property.”

Monroe County Sheriff Sgt. Patty O’Keefe will be the new, full-time student resource officer at the school.

The 15 modular classrooms will house third, fourth, and fifth grades. “It’s pretty spacious,” said teacher Jeanette Wert of her room that measures about 36 feet by 42 feet. “It’s bigger than my old room and I have windows!”

Kindergarten, first, and second grades will be in the two-story Sue Moore Building. The new playground is located directly behind that. The campus’ old “main building,” which housed the school office on the main floor, is being demolished and a new structure will take its place.

The construction is slated to take two years and cost about $37 million. Halfway through the 2019-2020 school year, the older grades will transition into the new building while the younger kids will take over the modular classrooms.

What’s missing? Well, room for the support teachers. Extra tutoring in, say, reading, will take place in the corner of a regular classroom. The stage in the cafetorium has been converted into the school library.

“We’re like the Waltons,” said Unke, referencing the old TV show. “We’re like 16 people crowded into a two-bedroom house.”

Stanley Switllik has 586 students enrolled for the 2018-2019 school year, but more are still registering. Before Hurricane Irma, there were 606 but by the end of the school year, there were 592.

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