OAKLEY -- More than five years after construction workers packed up their tools, Oakley's Almond Grove Elementary School finally is set to open.

Oakley Union Elementary School District trustees unanimously agreed Wednesday that a residential development project near the Amaryllis Drive campus has progressed to the point that it makes sense to open the school in late July 2014.

"It's clearly a positive thing all the way around. Everyone's going to be happy," Superintendent Rick Rogers said before the vote.

A bond measure helped fund construction of the $20 million school along with that of Iron House Elementary and extensive modernization projects at two other campuses.

The Iron House site opened first in October 2006 because the district needed it immediately to alleviate overcrowding at Gehringer Elementary, which had roughly twice as many students as desirable.

By the time Almond Grove Elementary -- the district's eighth school -- was finished in December 2007, however, construction of Pulte Homes' Magnolia Park project had slowed and the number of students coming from that area wasn't growing as quickly as district officials had expected.

A K-5 campus built to accommodate 575 students, Almond Grove initially will have an enrollment of 250 to 300. The school will serve just those in grades K-3 its first year if there aren't enough older children to warrant the two upper grades, Rogers said.


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The district plans to survey parents in the school's attendance area this spring to find out how many children at which grade levels they have and, if any of them are fourth- or fifth-graders, whether they plan to send these students to Almond Grove Elementary.

Although youngsters entering grades K-3 will be assigned to the new school, the district will consider allowing older students to remain at the one they're attending if parents submit an intradistrict transfer request.

Rogers said the district also will weigh requests from parents of K-3 students who want their sons or daughters to stay put, making ¿decisions based on available space at the children's current schools.

Over the next year, Oakley Union will be cleaning, painting and furnishing Almond Grove's 23 classrooms as well as hiring a principal and the rest of the staff.

The district also plans to continue hosting Lynn Center, which is leasing most of the space on the 10-acre campus, Rogers said.

"We believe there's plenty of room for both to operate," he said.

The presence of the center, which provides therapy for infants and young children with a range of cognitive, physical and emotional difficulties, represents a savings for the district. Lynn Center has agreed to deliver up to $200,000 in services for those youngsters who live in the school district in exchange for space. Until the center moved to Almond Grove Elementary, the district was paying that amount to give its special needs students ¿those services at Lynn Center's former site in Pittsburg.

The school also had been home to Mountain View Christian Center, which leased classrooms and an office building for nearly three years until it was evicted in March 2012 for nonpayment of rent.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.