News about the district and schools
October 18, 2010 On October 17, 2010 Orlando Sentinel reporter Denise Balona wrote about mold in Central Florida schools. The article contained errors we would like to correct and clarifications which need to be made as it relates to Orange County Public Schools.
Correction: A photo used in the article identified what was reportedly mold at Hungerford Preparatory Academy. There was no date caption for the photo of this school closed for more than a year. It was closed as a cost-savings measure due to declining enrollment. Reporter Balona identified Lake Brantley High School as a school located with our district. In fact it is in Seminole County.
April 21, 2010 On April 20, 2010, WFTV Channel 9 reporter Mary Nguyen reported that three juveniles arrested for a rash of burglaries in the Baldwin Park neighborhood of Orlando in 2009 were students at Glenridge Middle School. Nguyen also said the suspects were arrested on the Glenridge campus without the principal’s knowledge.
Correction: The juveniles Nguyen pictured and named in her report were not enrolled at Glenridge Middle School at the time they were alleged to have committed their offenses. In fact, one was never a Glenridge student. Nguyen also indicated that the three suspects were arrested on campus which is not true. Nguyen further said that the principal was unaware of arrests on campus. That, of course, was not possible because the arrests did not occur on campus.
September 22, 2009 On Saturday, September 19, 2009, "The Orlando Sentinel" published an article (“Plans for 2 schools sputter”) written by Erika Hobbs that contained misleading information.
Evans High School- After School Board direction to build the new school on the existing campus, the advertised plan was for contractors to build the new school allowing occupancy in time for August, 2012 school opening. The brevity of this plan was only possible with the use of the ninth grade Evans campus as a swing school during construction, and also the replacement of the aging Evans buildings with new, more cost efficient prototype structures versus renovation. The Special Exception granted by the Board of County Commissioners allows Evans’ students to occupy the 9th grade campus until October, 2012. These plans are still on track. A bid protest along with environmental contamination found on adjacent properties (Florida Statute 1013.36 (3) prohibits K-12 schools from being built on contaminated sites) delayed site demolition work and an early start. Despite these hurdles, construction should still begin just after the New Year. In the September meeting, staff briefed COVE on the changes to property acquisition and impact on the time line for school construction. Our contractor is confident in meeting the August, 2012 occupancy date, and continues to look for further schedule improvement opportunities without adding excessive costs.
Oak Ridge High School – Earlier this year the School Board of Orange County approved the purchase of seven acres of land along Oak Ridge Road to expand the campus in order to rebuild this aging facility. The budget for the Oak Ridge High project has changed several times over the years for various reasons. COVE (Citizens’ Construction Oversight and Value Engineering Committee) reviewed the Oak Ridge project in more detail in 2005, providing guidance to district staff, which attributed to an increased Board adopted budget for the 2006/07 fiscal year to $82.7 million. The most recent 2009/10 Board adopted budget has reduced this number to $70.8 million including the cost of the land acquired along West Oak Ridge Road. This lower number is consistent with falling construction costs. Based upon the current construction market, it should now be even more cost effective to replace all campus buildings with prototype structures, providing a 50-year solution versus only renovating the aging buildings. We anticipate construction of the new Oak Ridge High School to begin sometime after spring 2010, with estimated completion near the end of 2012.
Evans and Oak Ridge High Schools have a long history of serving their communities as cherished educational centers. As a school district we continue to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, while at the same time building facilities to last for the next half century.
September 21, 2009 On Friday, September 18, 2009, WFTV Channel 9 news aired a story regarding an apparently overcrowded bus assigned to transport students to and from University High School. The anchor announced the story's reporter told him "the district is running fewer buses to save money." The reporter said an administrator told a student they "shut down one of two buses routed through his neighborhood for budgetary reasons." The reporter claimed that "higher powers don't usually step in [to relieve overcrowding] until there is an accident." The anchor also said the district did not "address the safety issue or how much money has been cut from the transportation budget this year."
CORRECTION: Orange County Public Schools is running as many (or as few) buses as is necessary to safely transport students to and from school. The number of buses routed through neighborhoods varies, based on student bus-riding eligibility and participation. When it is apparent that an increase in student ridership requires a second bus to be assigned to a route, Orange County Public Schools acts accordingly. It does not wait for an "accident." The district has not reduced the number of buses in use. In fact, since the budget was approved on September 8, 2009, the district has added 22 buses for a total of 983 buses in use, as of September 28, 2009. The number could change as ridership demand changes. Safety has and always will be the number one priority when it comes to students, staff and employees. For this story, the reporter did not request information or confirmation from district Media Relations about the transportation budget.