April 12, 2001
New Boca High will be
'beautiful,' functional
School will also be safe, officials say

By Susanna Laurenti

The details of what the new Boca Raton Community High School will look like
have not yet been hammered out, but everyone agrees on one thing:

"The school will be magnificent," said Boca High parent Don Rodgers. "It's going
to be beautiful," agreed Principal Diana Harris.

Those sentiments have been echoed by almost everyone who sees a rendering of
the new Boca High, to be completed in 2003. The state-of-the-art structure will
have two stories and offer a courtyard and a large auditorium, as well as four
classroom buildings.

"When it opens up, people will be flocking to it," said Rogers, who has closely
followed the years-long fight to rebuild 38-year-old Boca High off Glades Road just
east of Interstate 95.

The preliminary plans for the school, which are tentative, were designed by West
Palm Beach architect Schenkel Shultz, and are based on a prototype the firm has
used for eight other high schools in Florida. The new campus will be built around
the existing school buildings in two stages beginning this summer.

Students will continue to attend classes on campus while construction takes place.
Harris said the best thing about the school is that it will restrict access by outside
visitors to the campus.

"There is no reason for visitors to go deep into the campus," said Harris, explaining
that all "common areas," such as the gym, auditorium and media center, are located
at the front of the school away from classrooms. Also, the sole main entrance to
the new Boca High will be through the administration building.

"The only way in will be by passage through the front office. From a safety
standpoint, that is very impressive," said Harris.

The new Boca High will also not face east, as the existing school does. Instead, the
main entrance will be oriented to the south. The football stadium and student
parking lot will be left intact, and additional parking for faculty and 12th-graders
will be added at the front of the school.

The scheme could change if Palm Beach County School District officials win
approval from the state Department of Education to knock down the existing
school's science building. The building, on the northwest corner of the campus,
was built in the mid-1980s, and is too new to be razed, according to state
education officials.

"The state has a formula to decide if a building is too old to be saved, and they have
determined that the science building is not [old enough] ," said School District
Facilities Chief Bill Malone. "But we are working on getting them to consider a
different answer."

Malone said that, despite its age, the science building is in poor condition, has no
bathrooms and would not complement the style of the new campus.

"It spoils the whole way the prototype is designed," said Harris. "And if we did not
have that building to contend with, we could turn the school around and have the
entrance facing Glades Road. That might allow for more effective use of the land."

"We feel rather strongly that we would have a better school if the DOE would
agree that that building should be torn down," said Malone.

Another issue some Boca High parents are concerned about is the lack of a
designated soccer field at the new school. If one is not added to the design, Boca
High soccer players and city leagues will have to continue to use the school's
football field. And that option, according to parent Rodgers, is unacceptable.

"The city has become one of the largest and most successful recreational soccer
programs in the United States," wrote Rodgers in a Feb. 18 letter to Harris. "A
dedicated soccer field must be part of the new Boca High."

Malone said many parents agree with Rodgers and that architects are working to
add a soccer field into the design of the campus. If Boca High is built facing north,
the existing student  parking lot could be converted to a field, he said.

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