Fight over new relief high school in West Orange County continues

School board still considering lawsuit against county

OCOEE, Fla. - The Orange County School Board will continue to explore possible legal action against Orange County government at the same time both sides seek a compromise over a new high school in West Orange County.

School board members remain hopeful they will be allowed to build the new high school on district-owned property off County Road 535. In November, the Orange County Commission rejected a re-zoning request for the property, in part due to concerns from residents who live adjacent to the land.

"That's not the right location. There are traffic concerns, safety concerns, let alone noise," said June Cole, who lives in a neighboring subdivision.

But some parents are concerned that any further delays in construction will mean even more overcrowding at West Orange High School.

"We need a school and we need one that's going to service the community," said Julie Sadlier, who hopes the district will build the relief school on the CR 535 site so her daughter will be able to attend there in five years.

At a public meeting Tuesday night in the West Orange High School auditorium, school board members and county commissioners at opposite ends of a long dais, trying to work out their differences.

"We feel very, very good about our legal position," said School Board Chairman Bill Sublette, suggesting the county commission's rezoning denial could be overturned in a lawsuit.

"We may as well cut to the chase and go to court," said County Commissioner Fred Brummerr, who believes the school board should explore two alternative locations for the new school.

The school board's attorney estimates those backup sites would cost the district an additional $19-$35 million dollars, as well as millions more in taxpayer funds to improve surrounding roads.

Over the next month, both sides will take part in mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached, the school board has the opportunity to file a lawsuit against the county, according to a district spokeswoman.

Click here to view the OCPS plans.

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