ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – As the school year is set to begin, Orange County Public Schools released statistics about the students the district is getting ready to serve.
According to the numbers, it’s a lot.
The school district is projecting an increase of about 4,000 students for the 2019-2020 school year. The total number of students expected to be enrolled by next week’s time is 215,703, making Orange County the eighth largest school district in the nation. At last check, neighborhood data analytics company Niche supports this claim.This would also make Orange County the fourth largest district in Florida, following Miami-Dade, Broward and Hillsborough counties.
DIVERSE STUDENT POPULATION
As a rapidly growing county, OCPS has learned their students come from 165 countries, all choosing to call Central Florida home. The racial breakdown of these students shows a majority to be Hispanic, and about a quarter identify as black and another quarter white and Caucasian. About 2% of students report of being multicultural, or of more than one race and ethnicity.
With a diverse student population, OCPS reports that a large number of their students are bilingual. According to a district press release, OCPS students report speaking 157 different languages and dialects. The top five languages after English are Spanish, Portuguese, Creaole, Hatian-Creole and Vietnamese.
To make room for the influx of students, the county has opened four new schools for the upcoming school year.
Castleview Elementary is open for enrollment. The new elementary school is meant to relieve Bay Lake and Sand Lake elementary schools. Water Spring Elementary will do the same for Keene’s Crossing and Independence elementary schools.
The district is opening one new middle school: Horizon West Middle. The school was created to help relieve Bridgewater Middle.
OCPS is also welcoming a new K-8 school. Pershing School is meant to blend Pershing and Pine Castle elementary schools and will add middle school students for the first time, according to the district.
These new additions mean there are 199 public schools within the county.
To serve the increasing number of students, the district has to factor school meals, staffing and transportation challenges.
For the 2019-2020 school year, OCPS reports to have more than 25,000 employees ready to serve their student population. That number includes more than 14,000 teachers. The district experienced a shortage of instructors earlier this year. As of Tuesday, OCPS seemed to be closing the gap, with about 40 openings for instructors listed on their website.
Beyond instructors, the district must hire personnel for food service, whether that is serving lunches or preparing food in school cafeterias. According to the district’s job openings, they are fully staffed in their food services department. An important feat, as OCPS serves about 233,000 meals a day throughout their schools.
A spokesperson with OCPS said menu items served at schools are student-tested. The selections are approved through taste-testing events.
When it comes to transportation, the district reports more than 70,000 students take a bus to school. That means the district utilizes more than 900 buses and bus routes.
To prepare for the school year, the district is hiring for bus drivers, bus monitors and mechanics.
You can apply here.
To look up which bus route your student can take, use this link.