BOCA RATON — Boca Raton might get a new elementary school to ease crowding at most other city schools.
The city council supports allowing the school district to build on 13 acres of unused, city-owned greenery that surround Don Estridge High Tech Middle School, on Military Trail and Spanish River Boulevard. The council introduced a resolution about the plan late Tuesday.
This opens the door for negotiation with the Palm Beach County School District, which will ultimately decide if and where the new elementary school will be built.
The 13 acres isn’t planned for park use — or any city use — and the city is desperate for more space for students, said Councilman Scott Singer, who orchestrated the deal with school district officials.
“This is the center of our most populated elementary school districts,” Singer said.
A majority of Boca Raton schools enroll more students than they were built to hold. The issue has been so pressing that some have questioned whether Boca Raton should stop approving home development until schools expand to handle additional students.
The Palm Beach County School District has money set aside in its 2017 Capital Plan to build a school in the “south west area,” district officials said. It was planned for land promised to the school district by a home developer, but that plan fell through.
The money to build is there, but the district doesn’t own a site for the new school, Kristin Garrison, the district’s planning director, said last month.
Singer wants the city to act quickly lest the district decide to place the school elsewhere.
The site is not west of Boca, as the district had planned, but would alleviate crowding woes within Boca Raton limits and nearby suburbs.
“This solves a lot of different problems,” Mayor Susan Haynie said. “And I’m certain west Boca Raton can’t mobilize and provide acreage like we can.”
Don Estridge is a public magnet school and part of the county’s choice program. An elementary school at the site would not be a choice school, city officials said.
The school would alleviate pressure from five other elementary schools in Boca, three of which enroll more students than they were built to hold.
The school district is also considering expanding two elementary schools — Addison Mizner and Verde — to serve kindergarten through eighth grade, to alleviate crowding at middle schools.