Relief elementary school will draw from Independence

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  • | 12:46 p.m. October 15, 2015
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HORIZON WEST  A new elementary school will be opening in Horizon West next year, and the district rezoning to account for the new school will require some students to attend their third school in three years. 

Independence Elementary School opened this year to provide relief for Keene’s Crossing and Sunset Park elementary schools. The school that will open next year will primarily relieve Sunset Park, as well as some students from the other two schools.

For residents of certain subdivisions — including The Preserve at Lakes of Windermere, Oasis Cove and Lake Reams Townhomes — that means their children will have attended Sunset Park in 2014-2015, Independence in 2015-2016 and the new school in 2016-2017.

About 200 students will be affected in this way, including Jen Iapichino’s three children, who live in The Preserves.

“There’s no stability or consistency,” Iapichino said. “They can’t get really behind one school because they keep switching. We’ve done a lot to get Independence up and running, and I’ve gotten very involved in the PTO, and the kids love their teachers, but we have to leave next year.”

Pam Gould, Orange County Public School Board member for District 4, said the new relief school, and therefore, rezoning, are necessary because of the development boom in Winter Garden and Horizon West.

“We’re in a high-growth area, and the growth is moving west,” Gould said.

Students who will be in fifth grade next year are allowed to stay at Independence, but it could be difficult for their families.

“What happens is, unfortunately, you might have somebody with younger siblings, and they would be required to move,” Gould said. 

There is also the issue of transportation: There won’t be any bus stops for Independence in the affected subdivisions.

OCPS has posted an online survey through which families offer input on the two rezoning options for next year. Both maps require some students to attend their third school in three years. The difference is whether some students in Horizon West would be redirected to Independence from Keene’s Crossing.

“We were trying to get the right number of students in the schools but try to keep communities together, too—that’s what we always try to do,” Gould said about the rezoning options.

Iapichino said in her area, the rezoning is going to have the opposite effect.

“It tears up a neighborhood if some kids stay at Independence and some kids go to the new school. Then the kids are all split up,” she said. 



Independence: 770

Keene’s Crossing: 891

Sunset Park: 1,191


Independence: 805 

Keene’s Crossing: 868

Sunset Park: 1,287


Projected 2016-2017 Enrollment with Map 1

Independence: 786 

Keene’s Crossing: 890

Sunset Park: 841

New School: 842


Independence: 847 

Keene’s Crossing: 761

Sunset Park: 841

New School: 842

Contact Catherine Sinclair at [email protected].


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