ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The Orange County School District said it's growing so fast, it can't keep up.
Just last year, the district grew by more than 6,000 students. In the past decade, officials have opened more than 40 schools to accommodate growth, but it still wasn't enough.
More schools are needed now, but old county ordinances were slowing down the building process. The school district petitioned commissioners to consider changing the rules.
The county agreed, and in a joint conference held at City Hall, Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs explained efforts to open more schools through ordinance changes.
To accommodate, acreage requirements will be cut in half depending on the school capacity.
Smaller elementary schools would now only need 7 acres of land, as opposed to 15. High schools would go from 65 acres to 40-50 acres, middle schools would similarly be cut.
Other responsibilities of the school district would be to protect mature trees and landscaping. Also, traffic studies and better pedestrian access would be needed when building a new school. Charter schools would be required to follow the same rules.
Jacobs said this is the ideal situation for the entire community.
“We must not forget that good planning means that we plan for our children and we plan for our neighborhoods in a way they can both thrive," she said.
Plans are already in motion. Orange County School District is set to open six new schools over the next year. There are 40 planned in the next decade overall.