Palm Beach County parents 'cautiously optimistic' over new proposed student rezoning map

Roughly 2,000 families to be impacted by Dr. Joaquín García High School, set to open next August
Palm Beach County public school students during the 2022-23 academic year.jpg
Posted at 5:50 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-16 10:32:16-05

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — An update on the Palm Beach County high school student boundary changes that are shaking up thousands of families.

In addition to drawing in close to 2,000 students from nearby overcrowded high schools to the new Dr. Joaquín García High School in western Lake Worth, which is set to open in August of next year, the boundary changes will shift more than 1,000 students to other schools.

After a marathon meeting last week, a brand new proposed boundary map is addresses some parents' concerns.

Construction on Dr. Joaquín García High School, located on Lyons Road in western Lake Worth, Dec. 8, 2022.jpg
Construction on Dr. Joaquín García High School, located on Lyons Road in western Lake Worth, Dec. 8, 2022.


"I really feel this would be pulling the rug out from under them in such an unfair way," parent Paula Levy Parkes said.

Parkes has two children at Olympic Heights Community High School in west Boca Raton. With one graduating, she worries about the impact on her tenth grade daughter if she has to change schools.

"Not only have they already encountered so much stress and disruption being this age during the COVID era, now here they are, they are finally hit their stride in high school, they’re established, they dug in their roots," Parkes said.

Parkes is hopeful after a brand new potential boundary map just released shows her west Boynton Beach community staying where they are, instead of rezoning to Park Vista Community High School.

SEE: New proposed Palm Beach County student boundary map

"I do agree that, ultimately, the school board has to do what makes sense numbers-wise for the community and relieve overcrowding in the schools," Parkes said. "But I don’t think these kids should be left behind in the process."

Parkes said that if her neighborhood does get rezoned for a new school, she hopes there will be exceptions for students entering their junior or senior year to stay at their current school if they choose.

Parkes said her daughter is part of the cheerleading team and several academic programs that may not directly transfer to a different high school.

A rendering of Dr. Joaquín García High School in western Lake Worth, Dec. 1, 2022.jpg
A rendering of Dr. Joaquín García High School in western Lake Worth, Dec. 1, 2022.


It's a complicated process impacting thousands of families and up to 10 high schools as students are shifted around to relieve overcrowding.

A five-hour boundary committee meeting last week ended with more questions than answers.

"We really have not heard from the Latino or African American parental community who make up two-thirds of the parents in this district," said Dr. Carlos Diaz, a member of the School District of Palm Beach County's Advisory Boundary Committee.

And most concerns coming from the west Boynton Beach and Lake Worth communities are not actually about the new high school boundaries, but the ripple effect they leave behind.

"Instead of sending our kids to Park Vista, which would make sense educationally and logistically, they want to ship them across town, east to Boynton Beach High School," parent Alicia Pascua said.

Pascua lives in the Greystone community in west Boynton Beach, currently zoned for Boynton Beach Community High School.

According to school district data, only about 8% of the high school-aged students who live in the Greystone area actually attend the school.

Students in Greystone on Hagan Ranch Road are traveling 7.7 miles east and west to get to Boynton Beach High School. With a change to Park Vista, families would travel 4.5 miles north and south instead.

"We’re very grateful the committee is taking it into consideration," Pascua said.

Rezoning Greystone to Park Vista High School is also part of the new map proposal that Pascua hopes comes to fruition.

"I am cautiously optimistic. I think this is the time to do the right thing for our kids and our community," Pascua said.

The new map options also address concerns from the Winston Trails community off Jog Road near Hypoluxo Road. One of the initial maps sent part of this community from Park Vista High School to Santaluces High School.

Several parents spoke about the issue during last week's boundary meeting. The new options keep the entire community at Park Vista.

The next Advisory Boundary Committee meeting will be on Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. virtually.

If the committee can come to a consensus on a proposed map, it will make a recommendation to Superintendent Mike Burke and the Palm Beach County School Board.