Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County gears up for its biggest school, Explorer K-8

SPRING HILL — Hernando County has never seen anything like the new Explorer K-8.

When the school opens next August off Northcliffe Boulevard, it will have more of everything — more space, more kids, more technology — than any other building in the district.

On a recent tour, even principal Dominick Ferello was impressed by the scope of the 2,100-student building.

"I don't think anybody's had a building this big to run," he said, as he picked his way across the construction site. "I'm going to have (around) 10 kindergartens, without the gifted program. It's very big. The first grade is looking like seven or eight classes."

By comparison, sister school Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics holds just 1,475 students and has seven kindergartens. In place of that magnet school's extra science laboratories, the 295,000-square-foot Explorer will have extra classrooms.

Like Challenger, the new school is built to withstand hurricane-force winds. That includes roof technology that pushed facilities director Bo Bavota to his descriptive limits.

"The harder the wind blows, the more it pulls the roof down," Bavota said, describing a system of vents. "They have little whirly things inside. It creates a suction."

Explorer will also get the latest in wireless Internet technology, as well as audio speakers and teacher microphones in each class, he said.

Work on the $54.8-million project is slated for completion by the end of May, Bavota said.

Explorer will also have an unusually diverse student body. Many students will qualify for a free or reduced-fee lunch, based on their family income, and others with profound disabilities will receive special-needs services.

Most of Explorer's students will be assigned to the school under a new school boundary plan adopted last fall by the School Board. But the school will also house the district's first gifted education center, providing districtwide services for many of the 575 students who currently qualify for state gifted funding in Hernando.

On Monday, Ferello plans to hold the first in a series of meetings to build support with a critical group: parents.

The first 6 p.m. meeting at Deltona Elementary is intended to gather input on school uniforms, the School Advisory Committee and Parent-Teacher Organization meetings, he said.

"I don't want to make decisions in isolation that affect our learning community," Ferello added. "I want to talk to the parents and have a conversation."

At subsequent parent meetings March 25, 27 and 31, he plans to discuss his vision for Hernando County's newest school. The 6:30 p.m. meetings will be held at Deltona, Spring Hill and J.D. Floyd elementary schools, respectively. "I guess the basic purpose is for parents to check me out," Ferello said.

At those meetings, parents will see a slide show of the school and learn about rules and procedures that are unique to Explorer.

For Ferello, a former Broward County administrator, it's a rare chance to start a new school from scratch.

"It's the greatest joy to open this school," he said. "It's the pinnacle of a career."

Tom Marshall can be reached at or (352) 848-1431.

>>If you go

Parent updates

Upcoming parent meetings for Explorer K-8

Monday: Parent input meeting, 6 p.m., Deltona Elementary

March 25: Parent introduction meeting, 6:30 p.m., Deltona Elementary

March 27: Parent introduction meeting, 6:30 p.m., Spring Hill Elementary

March 31: Parent introduction meeting, 6:30 p.m., J.D. Floyd Elementary

More Info

$54.8-million The total project cost for the new Explorer K-8 school

295,000 The size, in square feet, of the new school

2,100 Students who will be served by school

99 Number of classrooms in the school

Hernando County gears up for its biggest school, Explorer K-8 03/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2008 8:19am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]