Overcrowding at High School
by Jim Hopkins, school board member
The only high school in Orange County is located in the town of Orange.
With an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students in grades 9 thought 12, the high school
has reached its capacity and has a shortage of adequate classroom space.
To ease overcrowding, the School Board approved the purchase of five temporary classrooms
that have been placed in front of the high school. In addition to the
temporary classrooms, three adjacent classrooms within the high school
into two science classrooms.
If the current high school has reached its capacity, then the most obvious question is when will
a second high school be built? This is an extremely important issue to young families that
live in eastern Orange County because their children have to be transported more than 40 miles
per day to attend the current high school. If the student takes part in an extra-curricular
activity, it results in many additional trips. These parents would like to have a second high
school located in eastern end of the county.
The number of high school students determines when a second high school will be built.
If a second high school existed today and we divided 1,500 students into two high schools, each school
would have 750 students. This would be too small to support a robust curriculum.
Many elective courses such as advanced placement and foreign languages would not have enough
students to permit them to be offered.
The Orange Public Schools’ administration has recommended that an enrollment of 1,000 to 1,800 students
represents the ideal size for a high school. This number of students offers a reasonable balance
between a healthy social environment and the administration’s ability to offer a satisfactory array
of courses. Based on these recommendations, the School Board will begin planning for a second
high school as soon as there is a projected enrollment of 2,000 high school students in Orange County.
Based on the county’s growth rate over the last five years, the high school’s enrollment is projected
to be flat for the foreseeable future. But if the county’s population begins to grow like it did
in 2005 or 2006, that could dramatically change. The School Board will continue to monitor the
high school enrollment projections but for now, a second high school is not on the horizon.