Omaha Public Schools prepares to open four schools this fall

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 5:17 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - When Omaha Public Schools opens four new schools this fall, it should help with the student crunch of overcrowding.

After all, Castelar Elementary is 110-years-old.

“I cannot wait for those doors to open for the first day of school,” said Principal Adriana Vargas.

Principal Vargas moves from Castelar Elementary to a new school this fall, Pine Elementary, just south of downtown Omaha.

Besides Castelar and the neighborhood, Bancroft Elementary will also feed students here.

“I have Denzzel with me today,” said the principal.

Denzell will begin fifth grade at the new school.

New lockers, new classrooms, a room dedicated to new technology, something the older buildings simply didn’t have.

“You are the very first student to enter the building. What did you think of it?” said the principal.

“It’s humongous,” said Denzell.

For Pine Elementary, this is the former site of Grace University.

To preserve some of the history, OPS paid tribute to the past.

Behind the doors is the original gym. One look inside, the Grace University royals emblem is still on the floor. It’s four times the size of a normal elementary school gym.

Pine Elementary’s mascot will be the porcupine. Pine Elementary is one of four OPS schools opening in the fall.

From Westview High School in northwest Omaha 156th and Ida to Buena Vista High at 56th and l as well as Forest Station Elementary of Childs and Fort Crook Road in Bellevue.

Just part of $830 million worth of bonds voters approved since 2014 to build new schools and improve the existing ones.

Around Pine Elementary it won’t be obvious but OPS gave back. For example, many small businesses helped pour the concrete for the sidewalks and parking.

“Over $40 million of the bond dollars went back to small and emerging businesses. That is a tremendous investment in our local economy. That’s the mothers and fathers of our students that we gave back to,” said Charles Wakefield, COO for Omaha Public Schools.

Pine Elementary will have a capacity of 450 but it will start with just 380 children.

The high schools have a capacity of around 1,500 but will open this fall with just half of that and only ninth and tenth graders.

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