ST AUGUSTINE, Fla -- It's a brand new school that could serve as a model for the future. Palencia Elementary is the first "green" school in St Johns County. But it's going far beyond just recycling all of its waste.
The district didn't spend any more to construct it than a typical school. The principal here says they just made smart investments.
Last minute tweeks are under way on what Principal Don Campbell calls a $16 million masterpiece. It's a learning establishment unlike any other.
"I'll be excited when the kids come on Monday because that's what it's all about," he said.
The building itself is green in every sense of the word. From the windows to the tile floor, to the paint used on the walls. Even the A/C is high-tech.
"One of the unique things we do is we make ice at night and then run water through the ice during the day and the water runs through the air handlers which blow across it to send the cold air into the classrooms," Campbell said.
The kitchen also is eco-conscious.
"Food cooks up very quickly," said Food Services manager kathleen Domiano. "It goes into that posture right there and it goes right into the serving lines very fresh."
But beyond being beneficial to the environment, the students will have a leg up learning. Lots of their tools are digital.
"We're going to be having no textbooks. All of our textbooks are going to be digital so they're all online. Our students will use computers and ipads in order to access the textbooks."
Campbell says his students are lucky and hopefully this turns into a prototype for more schools down the line.
"I was hoping to build a school of the future," he said.
And there are several gardens around the school too. Some are rain gardens designed to water the rest. And one out back will grow fruit and veggies the kids will actually eat in the cafeteria.
About 500 kindergarten through 5th graders are anticipated to attend Palencia Elementary this first year.