A ‘Schooling’ Crisis….A Consequence of Over-Development

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PUBLISHER’S COMMENT:

Along with this article by Jack McWalter, today’s video is part one on Jack’s BocaWatch series, ‘Schools on Steroids’.  All residents are encouraged to view this entire series.  Jack McWalter has reviewed many public records on this ‘over-crowding’ subject and offers the reader prospective not found within the public forums held in city hall to-date.  School over-crowding is ‘our’ problem and cannot, must not, be looked at in isolation to the over-development propensities of our municipality and county governments.  Stay tuned…much more to come.

Al Zucaro

A crisis in Boca Raton has surfaced after several years of ignoring the consequences of over development. Boca Raton is booming with back to back years of 7% growth. This year the Board of Education had to rewrite the boundaries for Calusa shipping over 300 kids elsewhere. Now we find out that Addison Mizner and Verde schools, which are being rebuilt, have space restraints which would cause Mizner to be rebuilt at a different location.  So, the Board of Education has taken the easy way out by proposing taking over 24 acres from Sugar Sand Park. I live in that area and it took me and my neighbors over 20 years of lobbying to get Sugar Sand built. Now the Board wants to take a big chunk out of the park. Not only are the residents in that area angry but also the parents of the kids at Addison Mizner.

My kids went there and the thought of them having to walk or bike over the railroad tracks along traffic that moves in excess of 50 MPH scares the heck out of me. What is more alarming is that this problem is only going to get much worse. The Board of Ed last year released forecasts of school growth in Boca and it was alarming. Boca High will be over 135% of capacity by 2021.  Elementary and Middle schools will be around 120% of capacity. They also said that presently Boca has over 230 temporary classrooms which is a huge red flag indicating overcrowding.

So, if we buy into the idea of converting our parks into schools, what next. Maybe the next time they will say let’s take El Rio park soccer fields and convert into a school. What about Red Reef? Where does this slippery slope stop? Oh, to make things worse developers will probably show up and want to put 8 story condos where Mizner is located now.

When I brought this problem up over 2 years ago to the city council I was told ‘not our problem it is the Board of Education‘s problem’. Well guess what, it is our problem because the Board of Ed doesn’t plan on working very hard to solve it. We, Boca Raton residents, need to get some good people together and form a task force to investigate solution(s) not only for Verde and Mizner but for all the Boca schools going out 10 years. I am sure such a group could come up with better solutions than converting our parks to schools. For example, I know of several schools and churches that bought up neighboring properties that worked out well for everybody.

It sounds like the Verde solution of moving Mizner kids temporarily over there while Verde is being rebuilt is a better solution than stealing land in our parks. I don’t know what the right solution is but I do know that this is a city wide issue that can’t be ignored. We need to have an open meeting for all who want to attend not just Mizner parents.

Call to action:  Contact the City Council and demand they organize a public forum where residents, parents and grandparents, can voice their thoughts, opinions and desires for insuring our children’s future and educational choices.  School overcrowding is, without a doubt, our problem.

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Born and raised in Chicago and a graduate of Loyola University. I went on to study at Chicago Kent Law, part of Illinois Institute of Technology, but stopped short to serve in the US Army for 3 years. Moved to Boca Raton with my family 35 years ago and began a 32 year career with IBM as Sales Executive and Business Director Manager with the Manufacturing Technology Center - now the Don Estridge School. Volunteering is in my blood, I especially enjoy working to raise money for children with special needs at the Jewish Community Center and look back fondly on the years spent coaching soccer and supporting Boca Jets football. My two children attended Addison Mizner, St Andrew's, Boca High, and are both graduates of University of Florida. If I sound like a fighter I am, beat cancer three times and I support all survivors who face that same challenge.

12 COMMENTS

  1. The traffic on Military Trail and Palmetto Road is already a nightmare at rush hour so I can only imagine what a school at Sugar Sand will add to the mix. I think it stinks that Sugar Sand has to become a school; it was such a nice park to get away from all the people by walking the little trails of Florida scrub habitat.

    I’m so glad I don’t work on Yamato Rd. anymore. The commute times have become ridiculous in Boca Raton. I know the people who worked up north will disagree but as a native of Florida, living in Boca Raton for the last 20 years and working in Boca Raton even longer, I know how nice it used to be, before all the people moved here.

    This is the fault of all residents, both city of Boca Raton residents and Palm Beach county residents, who allowed this over development to happen. Where did you think these kids would attend school? Where did you think their parents would work?

    Florida is famous for allow over development and the politicians never learn from their mistakes. Take the money and run. You can’t allow rampant over development and then be surprised at the consequences. I know, I’m not.

    • All schools should be PRIVATIZED. Why should I be FORCED to pay for schools that dumb-down and indoctrinate and why should I be FORCED to pay for the education of someone else’s kids. Hint: If you can’t afford to have kids DON’T!!!

  2. So many schools that I see all over Florida look to be only one story high, can they not take a page from the developers and just make them go up?
    Schools always seem to have a lot of unused land as well, I really think they should bring in some “starchitects” and do a little outside of the box designing and develop what they already have.
    Anyway just a thought, great article on a problem that affects everyone, even those without children.

    • Michael, you are absolutely right. Lets get creative which the board of education finds it hard to do. I had a contractor look at the school and he told me that he and others could rebuild Mizner in place. It would be modernized. It would not be a whole new school which I think is ok. You got 3 months in the summer. Bring in 10 portables and move to one side. You can bring in night shifts to work inside putting up new walls. Work weekends. Be creative. He said the teachers and students wouldn’t even know that there was a night shift. But the Bd of Ed wants to steal 24 acres from our parks.This would solve a lot of issues. NOT. I wouldn’t want my kids walking or worse biking to Sugarsand. Forget the buses solving all the problems. At least 10% of the kids will be late. You know that Mizner is only running at 92 % of capacity. I love that neighborhood school. We should not move it. We should save it. Lets vote on it March 13th,2018.

  3. One of the most important decisions a residential real estate buyer makes is based on the school district in which they want to reside. This is based on the quality of the school and the ability to walk or ride a bike to school from adjoining neighborhoods. Every realtor in Boca loves to say “this one is located in the Addisson Mizner school district!!”

    Redrawing the boundaries, or relocating the schools into non-commutable or high traffic areas is not a viable solution. And imagine what Military Trail would look like at 8AM if it was marked as a 20 mph School Zone.

    Frank Barbieri, is our elected school board member and is responsible for developing resident friendly solutions to this problem. He can be reached at

    frank.barbieri@palmbeachschools.org

  4. What Is Concurrency?
    “Concurrency” is a shorthand expression for a set of land use regulations that local governments are required (by the Florida Legislature) to adopt to ensure that new development does not outstrip local government’s ability to handle it. For a development to “be concurrent” or “meet concurrency” the local government must have enough infrastructure capacity to serve each proposed development. Specifically, concurrency regulations require that local government has the capacity in stormwater, parks, solid waste, water, sewer and mass transit facilities to serve each proposed development. Together, these seven public services are known as “concurrency facilities”.

    Nothing is addressed as it should be; including and especially schools

    http://www.talgov.com/growth/growth-confaq.aspx

  5. Look at a map. Relocating the school a few blocks to Sugar Sand makes a lot of sense. The existing Addisson Mizner site is maxed out. You could build multiple stories but then it would overshadow the houses next to the school. The Sugar Sand site would have enough room to accommodate the size k-8 school the district needs. The proposed location of the relocated Addisson Mizner school would front Camino Real not Military Trail as other wrongfully stated. The cars lined up for car pool would no longer wind through residential streets and block driveways. The traffic on the 2 lane 12th ave would also be improved. The land for the old school can be converted into a park or restored natural area. Property values around the old school would go up without the twice a day traffic. Kids could take field trips to the science and art exhibits at Sugar Sand by taking a short walk. After school play at the park, etc.

  6. David, you are missing the point. Your solution is an easy one. Just take 24 acres from the park and future generations in the public and they won’t miss it. Oh, because of overdevelopment we need 2 more schools so since it was so easy to steal space at Sugarsand lets steal maybe another 50 acres for 2 more schools. This is slippery slope we are going down. Hey how about stealing 24 acres at El Rio they won’t miss it. Yeh right. Oh, you say the 11 acres at Addison Mizner will converted to a park. Yeh when pigs fly. Developers already have their eye on that property. The solution is no schools in the parks. They are for everybody. Soccer and baseball fields and cultural centers yes. My recommendation is move Addison Mizner over to old Verde and rebuild Mizner on site in 1 year and not 2 . For 50 years Mizner was recognized as the most desirable school in boca because of its location. Housing values will go down if that neighborhood loses that school. Let the voters decide. It is a city wide issue. We got an election coming. Put on the ballet. .

    • Jack Im happy to put it on the ballot. The addison mizner and verde parents would vote overwhelmingly for the sugar sand site.

  7. I lived 4 years on the street that comes out out the back of Addison Mizner (3rd St). A multi-story school would be fine. We shouldn’t steal land from parks to save a couple of homeowners from shade. The city should buy those homes.

  8. In Broward County, Tedder Elementary School was rebuilt on site while school was in session by first building a two story building then tearing down a portion of the old school and rebuilding it. There is nothing wrong with a two story school, just as there is nothing wrong with a single story home being torn down and rebuilt with two stories as is being done in Boca. There is plenty wrong with taking away park land which we will never get back. Keep our parks and quit allowing developers to build huge condos which are contributing to our overcrowded schools and roads.

  9. John, since I have done that article and a follow up video I have gotten over 20 calls and emails agreeing. I live in east boca and we got 2 and 3 story houses going up in like 3 months from beginning to end and we got a Bd of Ed that says it will take 2 years to rebuilt Addison Mizner school over at sugarsand. Is this a joke. I got contractors telling me they can rebuild or modernize Addison Mizner in place . Than I am being told that the Bd of Ed is in cohoots with favorite group of guys that if they say $23 million for modernization 2 years from now don’t blink it is now $40 million. I don’t dance anymore as in the texas 2 step with city governments like the Bd of Ed and local city councils. Our kids are more important. Stealing land from our parks is out of the question. If they pull off sugersand and than El Rio, Patch Reef , Lake Lyman on and on. This boca council needs some change asap. They are part of the problem. .

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