Concerns about traffic backups on U.S. 1, stress on town services and student safety brought unanimous denial by the town council tonight to allow a Bright Futures Academy charter school in a current shopping center.
“As a parent of a fourth-grader, I would love to see the school here. But I have a responsibility as a council member to think about the town,” Vice Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Andel said during the five-hour meeting attended by about 100 residents.
Bright Futures officials told the council the pre-K through-eighth grade school on the west side of U.S. 1 at Rolling Green Drive would create 120 jobs and attract younger families to the town. Juno Beach students now attend public elementary and middle schools in North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.
“We are providing parents with a choice,” said Kendall Artusi, the school’s chief executive officer. She declined comment after the vote.
Mayor Mort Levine said the town’s police department would be required to provide protection at the school. He also expressed concern that the Seminole Plaza was adjacent to the gun range for the town’s 16-member police department.
“A student could wander over to that property,” Levine said.
The plan called for the school to replace the 400-student Batt School and about six retail shops in 5-acre Seminole Plaza. The school planned to open in August with about 800 students.
Bright Futures operates two campuses in North Palm Beach with about 400 students and a campus on Riverside Drive in Palm Beach Gardens.
The town’s planning and zoning board unanimously voted March 18 to recommend denial of the proposal to allow a special zoning exception for the school.
Some parents said they wanted the school, claiming Bright Futures would be an asset to the community.
Others noted that a high percentage of the 3,000-resident oceanfront town is retired. They said the school is not needed.
“It’s going to change this town for the future. And that’s what I don’t want to see,” said resident Ron Damico.