Omaha Public Schools celebrates first day, excitement over 4 new schools

Posted at 5:48 PM, Aug 17, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — School is back in session in Nebraska's largest school district and for hundreds of students here in Omaha, it's the first day of school in a brand-new building.

"It's an exciting week, the first week of school. This week is even more exciting because we are opening four brand-new schools," said OPS Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan.

Pine Elementary is one of the four new OPS schools. The staff has been chomping at the bit to welcome the students in.

"We've been anxiously waiting. Even yesterday, the teachers there were a lot of hums in the hallway saying, 'Oh my gosh, it's hard to believe tomorrow is the first day of school,'" said Pine Elementary Principal Adriana Vargas.

The students are excited to get started, too.

Logan started the day with the bus drivers and she says buses are better staffed than last year.

She then went to Westview High School, which is one of the brand new high schools, before heading to Pine.

She says the four new additions were very necessary.

"Three of the schools that we opened are in South Omaha. South Omaha schools have been, for two decades, overcrowded," said Logan.

The other new schools are Forest Station Elementary and Buena Vista High School. Vargas is coming from Castelar Elementary along with around 100 students.

She knows exactly how much the addition will help.

"We had two houses across the street to be able to accommodate some of the classroom needs that we needed. Now, after hearing from my colleagues, those houses aren't being used right now. All of the students are able to be inside of the building," said Vargas.

The new schools won't start at full capacity this year as they get in the swing of things.

"We are built for 600 students, and we are going to start with roughly under 300 students. Really establish those good, positive routines and those procedures we need to have in place," said Vargas.

"And they will grow. That's always the trend with brand new schools," said Logan.

Pine Elementary is fully staffed, but that's not the case everywhere.

Logan says there's been a teacher shortage across the country for 20 years. OPS is no exception. But she ensures that the students will be in good hands.

"We are going to make sure all of our children have adequate supervision and that's the most important thing," said Logan.

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