DAVENPORT, Fla. — The new housing developments popping up all over the northeastern portion of Polk County near Interstate 4 has led Polk County Public Schools to build a new high school.
- New school will be located in Davenport / Haines City area
- Current high schools there are over capacity
- Community meeting about new high school will be held April 24
- More Polk County headlines
Angela Usher, the district's Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Operations said they're expecting about 8,000 housing units to be built in the Davenport / Haines City area.
"We believe that by 2024 we will have to start planning for another high school," explained Angela Usher.
For now, she's focusing on the one that will be under construction starting in the fall. It will be able to house 2,500 students.
"We're moving along with it as fast as possible because the need is so desperate," Usher said.
According to Usher, the two high schools that are in the area, Ridge Community High School and Haines City High School, serve more students than they are designed for.
"Ridge is operating at 125 percent (capacity) and Haines at 109 percent (capacity)," Usher said.
Lots of parents and grandparents waiting in line at the Davenport School of the Arts said they were concerned about where their child would attend high school.
Grandmother Sarah Boesch was glad to hear the new high school would be built next door. She said her grandson will likely go there.
"We were getting worried, yes, because we didn't know where we were going to put him," Boesch said. "They're building so much around here that the schools are getting crowded and there's not enough high schools in this area."
One parent was concerned about the close proximity of the future high school to the Davenport School of the Arts.
Usher says they plan to break ground in August.
"Twenty-first century design. Everything upgraded. Technology. Safety and security. We really want to go into the 21st century with flexible classrooms space," Usher said.
Usher said it will also have a hotel hospitality program as well as a Fine Arts program. Boesch was really happy about that since the closest fine arts high school in the district is in Lakeland.
"The one in Lakeland is an hours drive to get him there. I can't see putting him on a bus that long," Boesch said.
Usher says all of the classrooms will be in two buildings, with interior hallways and one entrance and exit, making the campus more secure.
The school is expected to be open in August 2021. The cost of the school is $80 million, and it will be funded through the recently approved Polk County half cent sales tax, renewed in November 2018.
Parents are encouraged to attend the community meeting about the new high school on April 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Eva Event Center in Haines City.