School Board to Vote on Boundary Change - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

School Board to Vote on Boundary Change

By Al Pefley email

West Palm Beach, FL (WFLX)

A big decision is expected from the school board  Wednesday that could change the boundaries to ease overcrowding at Palm Beach Central High School.  Some students from that school would have to attend John I. Leonard High instead.  Not all parents are thrilled. 

"I think it stinks, it's an awful idea for the kids. Why? To go from an A rated school to a C rated school. It's obvious.  It's downhill,"  said James Hotchkiss, who has a granddaughter at Palm Beach Central.   The school board is about to vote on a plan that could send his granddaughter to John I. Leonard High this fall.

"This is a good school and my granddaughter is doing beautifully. And I know she would be very unhappy," Hotchkiss said.

"Kids are happy here. I don't think they should be moved," said Patty Kowalski, a Palm Beach Central High parent.

The idea is to take about 400 students from Palm Beach Central near Wellington, which is overcrowded, and have them attend John I. Leonard, which  has plenty of room.

"I would like to see the overcrowding eliminated here. It's definitely a problem," said Allison Douglas, a Palm Beach Central High parent.

A map provided by the school district shows two neighborhoods that would be affected.  Students who live in those two areas who now go to Palm Beach Central would attend John I. Leonard near Lake Worth starting in August, if the board approves the proposed boundary change.

"My daughter loves this school. It's a great school. So you think this is not a smart thing to do? No. It's not a smart thing at all," said Valerie Smart, a Palm Beach Central High parent.

Some say the boundary change might bring potential problems, because gang members from Palm Beach Central may clash with gang members at John I. Leonard.  "As a parent I'd be concerned because my child attends this school.  The gangs, I don't want them coming over here," said Sandra Morales, a parent at John I. Leonard High.

But the school district says parents need not worry about gang violence breaking out at John I. Leonard, if the boundary changes are approved and they will work to make sure students stay safe.  "We are not gonna make decisions based on gangs.  Gangs don't run our schools. Teachers and principals and superintendents and boards run our schools.  We're gonna keep all of our schools safe," said Nat Harrington, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County School District.  He added that in terms of quality of education offered to the students,  John I. Leonard High is a very good school.

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