BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — A report obtained by BocaNewsNow.com confirms that schools near GL’s new Boca Bridges, Seven Bridges and The Bridges are expected to experience massive overcrowding as school starts next year. The situation worsens through 2022-23, the end of the five year projection. Both Seven Bridges and Boca Bridges should be largely complete by that time.
Boca Bridges, which officially launches Saturday, May 19th, will add hundreds of upscale single family homes to the nearly 1600 homes built by GL Homes in “The Bridges” and “Seven Bridges,” all on Lyons Road between Clint Moore and Atlantic. The communities are marketed to families with many new homeowners relocating from New York and New Jersey — adding students to the district who weren’t already counted at other schools. All three communities — and a fourth to be revealed shortly — are zoned for Whispering Pines Elementary School, Eagles Landing Middle School and Olympic Heights High School.
Whispering Pines Elementary is slated to be at 111-percent of capacity within 5 years. Eagles Landing Middle School will hit 131-percent of capacity within five years.
The school district is now engaged in a game of musical chairs, shifting boundaries throughout Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach in an effort mitigate the effects of extremely crowded classrooms.
“In anticipation of the future students that will reside within these new developments, and in an effort to provide enrollment relief for other South County schools, funding for new Elementary School 05-C was moved up in the current adopted five year capital plan,” wrote Kristin Garrison, planning director the Palm Beach County School District, to BocaNewsNow.com
The school known as “5C” will be built on land owned by the City of Boca Raton at Don Estridge Academy. That is on Spanish River Blvd, nine miles from GL’s developments on Lyons Road. It is years from completion and will be for students who live in that area — not for children living in The Bridges, Seven Bridges, Boca Bridges, and another yet to be named GL community in the same area. It is unclear how a school in east central Boca Raton will effectively ease overcrowding in West Boca and Delray within the next decade.
Garrison says that a bandaid approach is moving some students from one school to another, including relocating some from Whispering Pines Elementary to nearby Sunrise Park Elementary. Whispering Pines is considered a “gifted” elementary school. Sunrise Park is not. Both will be overcrowded by 2020.
“Shifting additional students from Whispering Pines to Sunrise Park provides Whispering Pines the space to better accommodate students from the future GL Homes developments,” she wrote.
GL, known for constructing and marketing lavish clubhouses ranging from 27,000 square feet at Boca Bridges to 30,000 square feet at Seven Bridges, has reportedly donated $50,000 for landscaping at Whispering Pines Elementary but has no plans to build a school in the area known as the “Agricultural Reserve.” The Ag Reserve runs from Clint Moore to Atlantic on Lyons Road. It includes Boca Raton and Delray Beach addresses.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary Lou Berger, whose District 5 includes the area, said this is a school district problem.
“When approving developments,” wrote Berger to BocaNewsNow.com, “the impact on schools is no longer considered by the county commission due to the elimination of school concurrency by the State.”
The Florida Bar Journal, explaining “concurrency,” wrote this in 2006:
“For the purpose of school concurrency, a “developer,” which can range from one family building a home to a professional developer constructing hundreds of homes in one subdivision, will be required to demonstrate sufficient capacity at the appropriate public schools to accommodate the number of school children that are reasonably anticipated to attend the school.”
Concurrency became optional last year, giving the School District the ability to sign off on massive residential construction projects.
We Reviewed 40,000 Emails Regarding GL Homes Construction
BocaNewsNow.com reviewed 40,000 emails mentioning GL Homes, sent to and from county commission staff.
None revealed school district concern over pending overcrowding, or an offer by GL Homes to build a school in the Whispering Pines, Sunrise Park or Eagles Landing areas.
Boca Raton, Delray Beach School Overcrowding By The Numbers
By the numbers, Whispering Pines Elementary School will be at 106-percent capacity for the 2018-2019 school year, 107-percent for 2019-2020 school year, 108-percent for the 2020-2021 school year, 110-percent for the 2021-2022 school year, and 111 percent for the 2022-2023 school year.
At Sunrise Park Elementary School, the school hits 99-percent for 2019-2020, then jumps to 102-percent for 2020-2021, 105-percent for 2021-2022 and rises to 107-percent of capacity for 2022-2023.
At Eagles Landing Middle School, the school starts 2018-2019 at 119-percent of capacity and ends the five year projection at a whopping 131-percent of capacity for the 2022-2023 school year.
The news is better for Olympic Heights High School, which remains under complete capacity through the 2022-2023 school year.