March 26, 2001
Idea for smaller Boca High
earns support

Many say rebuilt school should not be large

By Susanna Laurenti

Teachers and school district officials say that when it comes to the new Boca
Raton High School, less is more.

Far from being unhappy over a school district proposal to rebuild Boca High for
2,000 students instead of the originally proposed 2,500, some at the school are

"We think it is exceptionally wonderful," said Patty Kirsch, a biology teacher at
Boca High. "We like a small neighborhood school. Once you get too big you lose
track of efficiency, recognition and pride. I want walk down the hall and
recognize every child's face."

Boca Raton Educational Advisory Board Chairman Bill Buchanan agreed.

"I think it's a good idea to keep the school small," said Buchanan, who teaches at
Boca Elementary School, one of the county's smallest schools. "It's not a gigantic
population where you hardly know anybody on campus."

Boca High, 1501 NW 15th Court, was built in 1963 and serves just over 2,000
students. A three-story replacement for the school will be completed in 2003 at the
same site. Construction on the facility is due to begin soon.

Under a proposal by School District Facilities Chief Bill Malone, that structure will
have enough cafeteria and auditorium space to serve 2,500 students, but
classrooms for only 2,000.

In a system where most schools add portables annually to accommodate the
county's skyrocketing growth rate, a plan to subtract classroom space may seem
odd, but many in Boca applaud it. Even resident Don Rogers, who staunchly
opposed Boca High being rebuilt at its current site.

"I think it's a fabulous idea and the only thing they can do on such a small site," he

But lack of available land is not why officials have decided to build Boca High
smaller, said Manager of School Enrollment and Programming Linda Hines.

Hines explained that originally, the new Boca High was supposed to provide
enrollment relief to crowded Spanish River and Olympic Heights high schools,
west of Boca Raton, and Atlantic High, in Delray Beach.

But in light of a recent proposal by Malone to construct a brand-new high school
west of Boca Raton and Delray Beach, the new Boca High can be smaller, said

"We don't need the 500 extra seats at Boca High if a new school is going to be
built," she said.

Hines and Malone added that because the school's common areas will have room
for 2,500 students, adding more classrooms would be a simple matter.

"If we miss the mark and get more students we would add another classroom
wing," said Malone.

School Board members heard the idea briefly Monday, but have not made a final
decision yet, said Malone. Member Susan Whelchel, who was once a teacher at
Boca High, supported the proposal.

"I think it is great as long as we are positive we only need to build it for 2,000,"
she said. "I believe in small schools."

Whelchel, Malone and Hines said they would discuss the plan with Boca Raton
city officials before finalizing it.