Published On: Sat, Dec 22nd, 2018

After Some Heavy Lifting, the City of Boca Raton to be Site for New Elementary School

By Robert S Weinroth

School overcrowding has been a regular complaint of parents within the City of Boca Raton. The chorus of complaints gets louder each time a new development project is proposed with its likely influx of additional students. Relief from overcrowding has been the mission of both the City and Palm Beach County School Board.

At one point last year, it was learned an elementary school slated to be built west of the city was not going to be going forward when the land required was not available, city and school officials began to work in earnest to develop a plan to move the school, referred to as O5C, the a site adjacent to the Don Estridge High Tech Middle School at Military and Spanish River Blvd.

On Friday, after a great deal of behind the scenes work, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Pam Stewart approved the plan. The new school will be built on city-owned land adjacent to Countess de Hoernle Park which will be the same site where Verde Elementary students will be temporarily housed next year while their school is demolished and rebuilt with funds from the sales surtax approved by Palm Beach County voters in 2016.

According the School Board chair Frank Barbieri Jr, the approval to build the school did not come easily. The district was required to demonstrate the need which demanded staff provide data-based answers to the Department of Education’s questions and concerns. The problem was notwithstanding the overcrowding within the city schools, other schools within the county system continued to have capacity. 

Examples of the overcrowding are abundant. At Calusa Elementary (built for 836 students) the most recent census exceeded 1,100 students with a ejected enrollment of almost 1,400 in 2022. Calusa has the unenviable distinction of being the most crowded elementary school in Palm Beach County.

Coupled with the issues faced at Cakusa Elementary, Verde Elementary (built for 926 students) has almost 1,100 students with that number approaching 1,300 in 2022 if nothing changes. Similar capacity issues are being felt at Whispering Pines and J.C. Mitchell.

Bending to the concerns of the Don Estridge families and staff, the temporary school for Addison Mizner Elementary on the same site when Verde construction is completed will be accomplished without Don Estridge losing its track fields during construction.

The target  for the completion of the newly approved  elementary school is 2020 and it will have a capacity for about 1,000 students. The $18.5 million price-tag ,556,660 will be paid for with money from the penny sales surtax.

The new elementary school will be designed to allow it to expand in the coming years to a K-8, if necessary.

City of Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer noted his pride in getting this new school approved saying, “it provides a long-term solution for the betterment of the City of Boca Raton and its residents.”

The School District will release a timeline for construction of the new elementary school in early 2019.

About the Author

- Robert Weinroth is a 27 year resident of Boca Raton where he is an attorney, businessman, former member of the City Council (where he served for four years) and currently serves as an elected member of the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Weinroth went to Boston’s Northeastern University where he earned a BSBA in Management. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor at New England School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey and the Supreme Court of the United States. Weinroth served as president and general counsel of Freedom Medical Services Inc, an accredited medical supply company in Boca Raton. FREEDOMED® represented the realization of an entrepreneurial dream. Weinroth, and his wife Pamela operated the company for 16 years, eventually selling the business in 2016. Weinroth takes great pride in his past work as a volunteer Guardian ad Litem for the 15th Judicial Circuit, advocating for the needs of abused and neglected children deemed dependent by the Court. After serving on multiple community boards and committees, Weinroth was elected to the Boca Raton City Council in 2014. During his tenure, he served as CRA Vice-chair and Deputy Mayor and was appointed to a number of county boards including the Boca Raton Airport Authority, the Palm Tran Service Board, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency, the Treasure Coast Planning Council and was elected a board member of the Palm Beach County League of Cities. As a newly elected County Commissioner, Weinroth has been appointed Vice-Chair of the Solid Waste Authority, a board member of the PBC Transportation Planning Agency, and alternate representative on the Treasure Coast Planning Agency and several other county and regional boards. Robert, Pamela and their two dogs, Sierra and Siggy, are proud to call Boca Raton home.

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