The Palm Beach County (Fla.) school district has convinced state officials that it needs both an additional high school and elementary school to address crowding.
The Palm Beach Post reports that the high school will be built on property the district has held for more than a decade after buying it from a former Coca-Cola executive.
The state had argued that Palm Beach County couldn’t build new schools until it filled all of the seats it had in district schools. The district contended that because the county is so large, it needed to address crowding regionally to avoid prolonged bus rides and complicated, exhaustive boundary changes.
The district has 23 traditional high schools that serve more than 54,000 students in all. Ten high schools exceed capacity, and only five high schools have enough room to take students from outside their boundaries through the state’s open enrollment program.
Permission to build the high school dubbed “OOO” on planning documents should spell relief to campuses in the county’s mid-section, including Forest Hill, John I. Leonard and Palm Beach Central.
Forest Hill High is the most crowded high school in the district, with nearly, 2,470 students on a campus built to hold closer to 1,800.
The state also has approved a new elementary school in Boca Raton on land donated by the city.
Elementary school crowding has plagued the Boca Raton region, prompting one boundary change that shuffled more than 300 students. Remodels are pending at two elementaries to turn them into schools for kindergarten through grade 8 and add seats in the lower grades.
But those expansions were only a stop-gap. An additional school gives more relief.
Although the state has approved a new elementary and high school, it has been mum on the district's request for building a middle school.
The district would like to build a middle school on property adjacent to Sunset Palms Elementary.