ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The latest student enrollment report by Orange County Schools shows that more than half of the elementary, middle and high schools are overcrowded with students.
According to the February report:
• Sixty-two of 120 elementary schools, or 51 percent, are over capacity.
• Twenty-three of 37 middle schools, or 62 percent, are over capacity.
• Twelve out of the 20 high schools, or 60 percent are over capacity.
"The crowding issue is a big concern," said mom Jodi Jessup. Her kids go to Independence Elementary School, a school that is built to have 768 students, but has more than 1300.
"Why are we having these problems? Why wasn't this anticipated," she asked.
Pam Gould, school board member representing District 4, which includes Horizon West, said the board is doing the best it can to accelerate funding to build relieve schools as new development comes in.
"Overcrowding is definitely what keeps me up at night," Gould said. "In my time on the school board, I have accelerated a number of schools. We have two elementary schools and a middle school opening next school term. We are also on track to open to new high schools the year after that."
She said the district is doing everything it can until then.
"We brought in a second cafeteria to Bridgewater Middle School. We added seating for kids when it comes to lunch time in our high schools and middle schools. We look at rotating programs through our media centers and other spaces," Gould said.
She also said she continuously meets with county officials and reads real estate reports to see what development is happening.
According to Orange County Public Schools officials, impact fees from developers will help build 18 schools over the next 10 years.
Gould crediting Orange County residents for passing and continuing to pay a half-cent sales tax that she says helps with funding, as well.
"We are doing everything possible," she added.
For more information on the new schools being built, click on this link.