The first day of school was fast approaching, yet Heritage Elementary Principal Beth Rabel Blackman was still hammering out basic logistics.
“Should we dismiss kinders at the gate or at the flagpole?” Blackman asked teachers packed around the table in a small conference room.
Launching a school year is complicated enough at the most established of sites, with teachers hauling materials from cars and organizing classrooms, counselors untangling the task of student distribution and principals soothing the concerns of fretful parents.
Mix in the debut of a brand new school and those complexities multiply exponentially.
Heritage Elementary STEAM Magnet School opens its doors Monday – at long last. The building complex was completed five years ago in the former Marine Corps Air Station, which has been transformed into the Tustin Legacy planned community.
However, when home construction stalled in the bordering Columbus Square neighborhood, low enrollment numbers shelved the school’s inauguration, leading to disgruntled residents saddled with paying off a bond for a school they couldn’t use. The city sued Tustin Unified School District in 2011 over the delay, but a judge ruled the district had the right to postpone the opening.