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.