School Board wants to discuss overcrowding at schools, address future growth

The school district's impact fee study from May 2022 cited that VCS has 9% of available capacity districtwide.

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  • | 11:00 a.m. April 12, 2023
Photo courtesy of Volusia County Schools
Photo courtesy of Volusia County Schools
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As people continue moving into Volusia County and the school district proceeds with construction projects at existing schools, School Board Chair Jamie Haynes said, the district needs to take a  close look at how growth is impacting schools in the near future. 

Where are the homes being built? What is the district planning to do to address the rising of number of students? 

“We need to probably look at what’s happened in the last two years, because we’re getting hit hard,” Haynes said. “They’re coming from New York, California, everywhere.”

The district’s impact fee study from May 2022 said that VCS has 9% of available capacity districtwide. When broken down by level, the district reported 14% available capacity at elementary schools, 6% at middle schools and 4% at high schools.

The topic came up as the board discussed its capital projects at a workshop on April 11. When discussing the Orange City Elementary rebuild, Haynes suggested the district look into making the school bigger to plan for future growth.

School Board member Ruben Colon spoke about a development project in Deltona that sought to add 352 apartment units to an existing apartment complex.

In the district’s concurrency letter to the Deltona City Commission, which recommended approval for the project, the district reported that the affected schools — Timbercrest Elementary, Galaxy Middle School and Deltona High School — were said to be at 123%, 93% and 90% capacity, respectively. 

“However, for what would be an additional 352 apartment units, we said that we were going to generate 45 students,” Colon said. He added that the calculation was based on a formula and methodology using 10 years of historical data.

In the end, the Deltona City Commission rejected that development, saying there wasn’t enough infrastructure to support the project. 

Colon said that while the board does not have authority to approve school concurrency matters regarding development, he would like to see the concurrency letters before they are sent. 

“I’m not going to lie to you, it looked really, really dumb to say that ... out of 352 apartments, you’re only going to get 45 kids,” Colon said.

VCS Chief Operating Officer Earl Johnson said the maximum concurrency allowed varies per school level. 

The board also discussed the “elephant in the room” — Spruce Creek High School, which has over 2,500 students and a graduating class of about 600-650 students each year. The school has 50 portables. 

Board members discussed targeting the overcrowding by offering some programs, such as IB, at other schools, since those programs are one reason that many students who are zoned elsewhere choose to attend Spruce Creek.

“If we’re going to be smart with our dollars, and smart with what’s happening, we’re going to have to tackle what’s happening in a community,” Haynes said. 

Colon estimated a Spruce Creek rebuild could cost the district $150 million. 

“For four years, I’ve heard, ‘At some point,’” Colon said of the rebuild. “And so I wonder, at what point do we make a decision to start exploring?”


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