Why packed high schools will burst at the seams again next year


The boundaries for next school year are now set in Palm Beach County, with changes in place to relieve crowding at Calusa Elementary in Boca Raton and Forest Hill High in West Palm Beach.

Those changes involved shuffling hundreds of students at 10 schools. No more changes can be made until the cycle begins anew next year. And the challenges are plenty.

Short of building or closing schools, boundary changes are the most expedient way to balance enrollment among campuses. The moves will provide a little more breathing room come August at the district’s two most crowded schools. But that still leaves most high schools in a pinch to take any more students than they already have, while several middle schools sit half empty.

How crowded are those high schools?

Forest Hill High is so packed that at least 24 teachers don’t have their own classrooms. The school has more than 2,460 students in buildings designed to hold 1,837. The boundary switch will send 182 students living north of Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard to a school closer to their home — Palm Beach Lakes High. Still Forest Hill will be beyond capacity and no other nearby school has room to take the students.

The county’s high schools are so full that when open enrollment was announced, more than one parent griped to see that only three high schools — two of them in the Glades — had enough room to take students from outside their typical boundaries.

Nine of 23 high schools are filled beyond capacity; five more are at 95 percent capacity or beyond.

Two new high schools are slated to be built with money from the sales tax increase approved in November. One would rise somewhere west of Royal Palm Beach, the other at Lyons Road between Lantana and Lake Worth roads. But they are years in the future.

Meanwhile, eight of the county’s 33 middle schools have at least one third of their seats empty, as calculated by the state. Six are closer to half full: Bear Lakes in West Palm Beach, Carver in Delray Beach, Crestwood in Royal Palm Beach, John F. Kennedy in Riviera Beach, Lake Shore in Belle Glade and Odyssey in Boynton Beach.

The culprit? Charter schools and other choice options within the district, said Jason Link, the district’s enrollment expert.

The district has made some moves to address these matters. Most recently some of these middle schools received grant money to beef up choice offerings and attract more students.

It’s a plan that worked almost too well for Forest Hill High, which was losing students until it opened an International Baccalaureate program and several other magnets.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

North Palm suspends enforcement of storage ordinance for boats, RVs
North Palm suspends enforcement of storage ordinance for boats, RVs

After hearing from residents last week at a packed council meeting, the village council decided to suspend enforcement of a controversial ordinance related to the storage of boats and recreational vehicles in residential neighborhoods. About 70 people showed up to Thursday’s regular council meeting, with 12 pleading their case that the village&rsquo...
Cerabino: Torn-jeans dress-code flap hard to bare for school parents
Cerabino: Torn-jeans dress-code flap hard to bare for school parents

I’m foolishly wading into a great controversy gripping our community. That is, whether it was right for Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay’s daughter to be hauled out of her high school class for violating the dress code with a pair of jeans that had a wide rip at the right knee. The high-powered mom took to her Facebook page last...
Delray throat cancer survivor to perform concert in Boca on Saturday
Delray throat cancer survivor to perform concert in Boca on Saturday

There was a time when Cecilia St. King wasn’t sure if she’d belt out a ballad again. Singing was how St. King coped with tragedy, including the events of Sept. 11, 2001 — she was blocks from the World Trade Centers when they’d collapsed in a terrorist attack. Six months later, she was diagnosed with throat cancer. “When...
BREAKING: Man found shot to death in Lake Worth
BREAKING: Man found shot to death in Lake Worth

A man was found shot to death Tuesday afternoon in Lake Worth, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies responded to the shooting around 2 p.m. in the 2600 block of 6th Avenue South and found the man dead. The cause of the shooting is unknown. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at (800)...
More Stories