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Palm Beach County School Board approves controversial student boundary map for new high school

Dr. Joaquín García High School, located on Lyons Road in western Lake Worth, to open in August
Construction on Dr. Joaquín García High School, located on Lyons Road in western Lake Worth, Dec. 8, 2022.jpg
Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 15, 2023

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Following a contentious, hours-long meeting Wednesday night, the Palm Beach County School Board unanimously approved a controversial map that redraws school boundaries and impacts thousands of high school students.

The map was created because of Dr. Joaquín García High School, which is currently under construction on Lyons Road, just north of Lantana Road in western Lake Worth, and is scheduled to open in August.

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

Superintendent Mike Burke released his proposed student boundary map recommendations about two weeks ago.

Under the plan approved by school board members Wednesday night, certain students from Palm Beach Central High School, John I. Leonard High School, Santaluces Community High School, and Park Vista Community High School will be rezoned for Dr. García High School.

The study, on average, reduces the overall drive distance for students and also relieves overcrowding at several area schools.

Students who will be juniors next year will be allowed to stay at their current school if they wish, along with rising seniors and their siblings.

View Superintendent Burke's recommended map below:

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Education

Dr. García High School, the first public high school to open in Palm Beach County since Seminole Ridge Community High School in 2005, will have a dramatic ripple effect to relieve overcrowding at area schools, many of which are well overcapacity.

Drawing the new school zones has been a contentious process that will shuffle thousands of students around eight high schools from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach.

Many parents said the boundaries create unnecessary confusion and may disrupt the feeder pattern for their children.

The school board on Wednesday made several changes to Burke's proposed map, keeping the Isola Bella community on Hypoluxo Road (SAC 227-C) zoned for Park Vista Community High School, instead of rezoning those students to Dr. García High School.

In addition, the Boynton Waters community will be rezoned to Park Vista, and students from SAC 180-B off Forest Hill Boulevard will be zoned for Palm Beach Central High School, instead of Dr. García High School.

CONTINUING COVERAGE:

The school, which is projected to have a student population of 2,500 by the 2027-28 academic year, is named after Dr. Joaquín García, a Cuban-born local businessman who was a founding member of the Hispanic Education Coalition of Palm Beach County, where he served as chairman for more than 12 years.

Garcia passed away in November 2021 and was posthumously honored with a proclamation from the Palm Beach County School Board one month later.

Dr. Joaquín García.jpg
Dr. Joaquín García

Dr. García High School will feature business information technology and medical sciences programs.

According to the latest enrollment statistics from the School District of Palm Beach County, the following nine high schools are on the "Capacity Watch List," meaning they are at, over, or close to being overcapacity:

  • Forest Hill Community High School: 129% utilization
  • John I. Leonard High School: 116% utilization
  • Olympic Heights Community High School: 114% utilization
  • Palm Beach Central High School: 103% utilization
  • Santaluces High School: 102% utilization
  • Park Vista Community High School: 101% utilization
  • Boca Raton Community High School: 100% utilization
  • West Boca Raton Community High School: 100% utilization
  • Seminole Ridge Community High School: 95% utilization

The Palm Beach County School Board will hold a second vote on the boundary map next month, which is required under school district policy.