PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — St. Lucie County is home to huge population growth. It's something school administrators and parents alike are noticing.
"Very busy, yeah," Megan Crews, a mother of two, said. "I moved here about 15 years ago. There was nothing here. Tradition didn't exist, and it's been so overpopulated now."
She said they talk about moves north to what she described as underpopulated areas, like Vero Beach or Sebastian, but they have family here.
"I'm from Palm Beach County. Palm Beach County is overpopulated, so we moved up here. Now that's becoming overpopulated," she said as she laughed and said she feels like it follows her.
Anyone driving around Port St. Lucie will notice sign after sign showing new homes coming soon.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the populationin St. Lucie County from April 2020 to July 2021 grew by 4.4%, and that includes school-aged children either now or in the future. In Port St. Lucie, the population grew 6.2% in that same time period.
"Goodness gracious," Faraz Garcia exclaimed. "We have been here two years and it has boomed!"
The newcomers include a family of seven. Three of them are out shopping today in the newly bustling city of Port St. Lucie. They said they don't have a family picture to show.
"We've got five of them (children)," parent Shevin Persaud said.
Photos are hard to coordinate with five kids and so are the school drop-offs and pick-ups.
"It's super busy, especially, around pick-up and drop-off time, goodness gracious cause the lines are just," Garcia said.
St. Lucie Public Schools said there was an increase of about 2,000 students from last year to this year. With 47,000 students in total, the percentage increase mirrors the population growth in the county pretty closely.
"We definitely need a lot more schools around here," Persaud said.
There are plans for three new St. Lucie public school buildings in the near future. They are:
- A new High School in Tradition at the future extension of Crosstown Parkway. The opening is set for August 2025 and construction will begin in March.
- A new High School will replace Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy in its’ current location. Construction will begin in October 2023 and is set to be complete December 2025.
- A new K-8 school in SW Port St. Lucie. It will open in 2027. No exact location is set yet.
"I think that would be great," Crews said. "That's definitely needed."