W.W. Irby Elementary School
13505 NW 140th Street, Alachua, FL 32615
Principal: Mrs. Valdenora Fortner
Grades PreK - 2nd
A History of Our School
W.W. Irby Elementary is located in the community of Alachua, Florida. The
city of Alachua is in Alachua County in north central Florida, approximately
15 miles from Gainesville, the home of the University of Florida.
Alachua Elementary had been the K-4 school in the community until there was
enough population growth to require a second elementary school. In the
Spring of 1992, the School Board of Alachua County purchased property to
build a new elementary school in the community of Alachua.
When community members realized that the schools were only 1.2 miles apart,
they expressed a concern that their children would be divided. They asked
Dr. Hirsch, principal of Alachua Elementary, and Mr. Stechmiller, principal
of Mebane Middle School, to address this issue at a Chamber of Commerce
meeting. It was determined that a committee of community members would make
a presentation at a school board meeting and request that they consider
dividing the schools by grade level, creating a PreK to Second site and a
Third to Fifth site. This plan would also allow fifth grade students, who had
been at Mebane in middle school, to return to an elementary setting. In
October 1991, the School Board of Alachua County voted 5-0 to accept this concept.
W.W. Irby Elementary opened its doors on August 28, 1992 and is named for
W.W. Irby, who was an Alachua resident and a dedicated educator who served
as principal at Alachua Elementary School for 28 years. Irby now houses
approximately 500 Pre-K to 2nd grade students. For grades 3 to 5, our students
move to Alachua Elementary. We consider our sites as one elementary school
housed in two locations.
Mr. William Wright Irby was born about 100 yards from the school site. His only
time away from the Alachua area was while serving in the Air Force and a period
of teaching at Ocoee High School. He began his career in the Alachua area in 1952,
serving continuously as teacher, coach, and principal until his retirement in 1984.