Orange County will shift students to ease overcrowding

Almost 3,000 students in Orange County Public Schools will have to switch schools in the next few years.  District officials told parents on Monday night that it is going to happen, and the school board has two plans from which to choose.  

Parents received a geography lesson, studying maps which include new proposed attendance zones for Orange County students.  District leaders said they must make changes, because there are too many old schools with not enough students in them.  Dr. Carol McGowen, with OCPS explains what will cause most students to move, saying, “It will come from us putting students in our brand new k-8 buildings.”  

The district will build three new schools and pull students from other neighborhoods to fill them.  The plan calls for a new kindergarten through 8th grade school on the Audubon Park site. There will be another k through eight school at the Lake Como Elementary site. The district will also build a new pre-kindergarten through 8th grade school in Parramore.  Parents with questions can visit to read rezoning policies, look at maps and give input through a survey. 

Some students will be grandfathered so they will not have to attend different schools. Dr. McGowen explains, “It allows families of 5th and 8th graders to stay at the current school, where that’s possible.”  

Tara Stevens does not want her son to move from his school.  “I don’t want to see people who have children in the school be moved to another school, because it affects too much and it’s not right.”  Julie Bowyer has two students who could be affected by the changes.  She is also a concerned realtor.  “I am worried about families who have bought houses or are looking to buy houses specifically to attend certain schools, and they are going to be upset if they don’t go to that school.”

The district will hold another meeting this Thursday evening to educate parents about the attendance zones and three more in October. The school board will hold a public hearing on the issue on December 8. District officials say most of the students who will have to switch schools live in downtown Orlando or close to it. Some students as far away as in Winter Park and Maitland could also be affected.