By Eric Althoff
BOCA RATON, Fla.—A ceremonial groundbreaking was held in Palm Beach County in June for a new elementary school in Boca Raton. The event was attended by local educational leaders, who overturned shovels of dirt on a spot of ground that will eventually be host to a 1,000-seat elementary school for the fall of 2022.
According to the Palm Beach Post, the as-yet-unnamed school (currently known only as “O5-C” in bureaucratic parlance) has a construction budget of $30 million. For nearly two years, the location of the new school had been hosting temporary classroom facilities—donated by the city of Boca Raton—needed due to drastic overcrowding issues throughout the local school district. Those temporary classrooms were also educating students from the local Verde Elementary school as its campus was also being renovated such that it could also host middle school students prior to reopening last fall, according to the Post.
The new campus will be a three-story structure, with a neighboring administration and media center, plus an additional one-story building for arts and science labs as well as a student cafeteria.
According to the Post, state administrators in Tallahassee initially weren’t keen on adding an additional school in Boca Raton considering that so many other schools throughout the Sunshine State were under-attended even before the pandemic. However, ultimately an agreement was reached since the new middle school would serve the greater region and thus alleviate local overcrowding.
The Post reported that this school year, the district’s elementary schools have been educating over 70,000 students in the waning days of the covid-19 pandemic. Even with a drop this year from pre-pandemic rolls, the county forecasts that enrollment will be up nearly 4,000 students in the fall and will bypass pre-pandemic enrollment by the fall of 2023.