Saturday, August 18, 2018

Plato Academy Trinity to start begin classes in alternate site, while waiting for its new building

Unable to complete its new classroom building on time, the Plato Academy Trinity charter school is set to begin classes for about 240 students Monday in a temporary facility about 2.5 miles away from its planned permanent location.

The school's "Plan B" of operating at Generations Christian Church, 1540 Little Road, has been approved by the Pasco County school district. It calls for classes to move into the new building by Sept. 1.

But even that pledge from the project's new contractors, delivered through attorney George Pappas, did not bring much confidence to Plato directors. At a special meeting Friday, board members said they were not aware the project had fallen so far behind until Thursday evening, and accused the school's leadership of not properly informing them. They worried that the plan to be ready in two weeks might not come true, and told staff to check with Generations Christian to see if it might still be available for September — just in case.

Past coverage: Parents worry as Plato Academy Trinity appears unable to open for classes on time 

Pappas told the board that the contractors had informed him that the construction was moving on pace, and should be ready for Aug. 13 classes. It later became apparent, though, that they had said they passed inspections that they had not, Pappas said, and things were not on track.

He apologized to the board, and said it took a while to unravel the situation.

Board members complained that this was no way to conduct business, and said they needed to have better information going forward, so they can keep parents, students and staff updated.

"I'm glad we're not Hillsborough," Kolettis said. "It's Day 1 for them. We actually have the weekend to scramble to prepare Plan B."

The board requested daily updates on construction and enrollment for the school, until it is ready. Members also encouraged parents who attended the meeting or listened via phone to "stay with our family" and give the school a chance to make amends.

The school has been projected to enroll about 240 students, up from about 70 a year ago.

Parents began to have concerns the school would not be ready when they received last-minute notification that their Thursday open house would be canceled. County officials later reported that the site lacked several approvals and inspections, and was highly unlikely to open on time.

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