BREAKING: OCPS, county agree on WOHS relief plan ahead of meeting

  • By
  • | 4:53 p.m. April 1, 2015
  • West Orange Times & Observer
  • News
  • Share

WEST ORANGE — Just days before the April 7 meeting between the Orange County Commission and the Orange County School Board regarding the West Orange relief school, it seems the two have found common ground in an altogether new site.

But, they'll have to build the common ground, first.

Eschewing both the Beck Property and the Seidel Road Property, the County Commission and School Board have agreed to build the new relief high school in the middle of Lake Butler. Once approved, the proposal will become Orange County's first floating public school, said Ima Lytuyu, aide to District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke.

Lytuyu said the two sides reached the unconventional agreement in principle this afternoon and expect to confirm it at the April 7 hearing.

"Although the commissioners and School Board members certainly will appreciate the comments of the public, they've done all the research, and the decision today is all but final," Lytuyu said. "This is about what is best for Orange County and being able to lay out a plan to relieve (West Orange High) School as soon as possible and get construction started."

The proposal comes after several years of controversy regarding the original Beck Property in the Windermere Rural Settlement. With the school being surrounded entirely by water, the noise and other activities that concerned area residents should be isolated, Lytuyu said.

"Commissioner Clarke threw out the idea of building on the lake," Lytuyu said. "Some were not receptive to the idea, but the majority of the officials in the room believed it could expedite the process to ensure we can relieve West Orange by 2017."

The school will be constructed entirely on a series of pylons installed in the middle of the lake. And, because of the expensive nature of such a construction project, leaders on both sides agreed to use the Beck Property to construct the school's stadium. With the school building now located off-site, the Beck Property will allow for a much larger venue — 20,000 seats. In addition to Friday night high school football, the venue will be used to host large rock concerts, monster-truck rallies and nudist conventions.

With these basics in place, the public hearing April 7 will be more about addressing specifics, so that the meeting "might finish before sunset," School Board Chairman William Sublet said.

As for one more crucial detail that remains — the name of the school — officials are considering several ideas, including offering an open bidding process for a sponsor to name the school, so that OCPS could have an enhanced revenue stream to finance school construction and updates better and faster, Lytuyu said.

For renderings and more details, scroll down.

Dear loyal West Orange Times & Observer reader: Happy April Fools’ Day!

Let me be clear: The story, titled “OCPS, county agree on WOHS relief plan ahead of meeting,” which appears above on our website, is an April Fools’ Day spoof. It is not true.

I’ll say it one more time: It is not true.

The relief high school is NOT going to be built in the middle of Lake Butler.

We owe you an explanation. Our sister paper, the Longboat Observer, started this tradition 17 years ago, in its print edition. Since then, it has spread to the Observer Media Group’s other products, including the Sarasota ObserverEast County Observer, Pelican Press and the Plant City Times & Observer.

From where we sit, we all could use a laugh now and then. We hope we did that for you with this story.

Whether you enjoyed our spoof or consider us completely immature and unprofessional, send an email to Executive Editor Michael Eng, [email protected].