HORIZON WEST – For some families who have watched their children get rezoned several times, it might feel as though their kids are being juggled from one school to another with no apparent reason.
But trying to find a fair balance of students to distribute between multiple schools to accommodate upcoming relief schools is no easy task — especially in a high-growth area with overcrowded schools that have relief schools destined to be over capacity the minute they open their doors.
Such is the case in Horizon West, which will see three relief schools open in August 2019. Two are elementary schools intended to relieve Keene’s Crossing, Independence, Bay Lake and Sand Lake elementary schools. The third will be a middle school intended to relieve Bridgewater Middle.
“You're really trying not to make one school bear the burden of all the growth,” said Orange County Public Schools Student Enrollment Director Carol McGowin. “The challenge is that there are so many pieces; it’s not just one thing. You’re dealing with children and families, so it’s about trying to get the numbers good, but also realizing you’re dealing with people and you have to make sure their interests are represented and taken cared of as well as you can. It’s a big puzzle when you’re drawing these.”
Using visual aids and data tables, McGowin explained the proposed rezoning options to parents who attended an informational community meeting held Monday evening, Feb. 5.
“Right now, with the elementary schools, you have Keene’s Crossing, Independence, Bay Lake and Sand Lake,” McGowin said. “Three of them are really overcrowded right now, and so what we’re looking at while opening up the two relief schools is how to try and balance the number of students between the community so that we don’t have one school with 1,600 students, while another has a very small number.”
There are four rezoning options regarding the two upcoming relief elementary schools — labeled sites 25-E–SW-4 and 49-E-W-44 — and two proposed rezoning options for the Bridgewater relief school, known as site 37-M-SW-4.
Depending on the rezoning option ultimately chosen, McGowin expects about 1,500 to a little more than 1,600 students would be rezoned to one of the two upcoming relief elementary schools — each of which has an 830-student program capacity.
Of the two rezoning options available for the Bridgewater Middle relief school, which has a program capacity of 1,250 students, a range of about 1,520 to 1,620 students would be rezoned.
However, no matter which option is chosen, all three relief schools would be slightly over capacity once opened, according to the estimated student enrollment projections for the 2019-20 school year. To address this, the district has included relief elementary and middle schools in the district’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan intended to relieve those relief schools.
According to the district’s 2017-18 CIP, one of those schools — labeled 85-E-W-4 — is an elementary school tentatively scheduled to open in 2024. A future elementary school, known as 20-E-SW-4, will open in 2020, and a future middle school, labeled 65-M-W-4, is anticipated to open in 2023.
“The good thing about Horizon West is we have school sites there reserved for us, and we have a good relationship with the County and developers to know what's coming along,” McGowin said. “But it's going to grow, and so folks who live there, depending on where they live, could be impacted several times before it builds out.”
The School Board’s Rule Development meeting, which will discuss the rezoning options, is scheduled for March 15. A public hearing on the rezoning is scheduled for April 18. To view the full presentation, parents should visit docdro.id/fg64PET.
Parents may also email Carol McGowin at [email protected] for more information.