February 17, 2001
With unofficial selection of an architect for the new Boca
Raton Community High School, the light is appearing at the
end of a long, wet tunnel for Boca High students and
faculty. School Board Chairman Tom Lynch must ensure
work is done right, on time.

Tom Lynch
Palm Beach County Schools
3340 Forest Hill Blvd.
West Palm Beach, FL   33406
930-8402 (toll-free)
(561) 434-7385 (fax)
New Den for Bobcats finally
on the way

Finally! At long last, Boca Raton residents are seeing some action taking
place in the matter of the new and long-overdue Boca Raton Community
High School.

The announcement this week that an architect has been unofficially selected to
build the new high school at Glades Road and I-95 is cause for a large, raucous
party. For more than a decade students, faculty, administrators, staff and parents
have endured a school that was literally caving in on itself. The roof leaks,
walkways and hallways flood during rainy periods, there is no auditorium,
lavatories are Third World. It's an old school by Florida standards and needs to be
replaced yesterday.

The official selection of the West Palm Beach firm of Schenkel Schultz will take
place next month. We can hardly wait nor can those who will be forced to endure
another two years in that place.

Something else should give taxpayers reason to cheer. The architect is not starting
out with a clean sheet of paper in designing the new Boca High. The company will
largely work with a prototype design used to build eight schools in Florida. At least
part of the structure will be multi-story to accommodate the limitations of the
present school site, where the new school will be built.

It is not an ideal site, but with Florida Atlantic University slamming the door on a
possible campus site for the facility, and with public opposition to a location on the
former Blue Lake property, the School Board found its choices severely limited.
The design of the new school will play a huge role in how the space is utilized and
how the expansion of the school can be obtained without simply cramming things

Florida needs to revisit and amend the way schools are built in this state.
Considering the cost to taxpayers, there is no sound reason, given the geography,
topography and climate considerations in Florida, not to have a series of template
designs for the various types of schools.

Obviously some sites will not be appropriate for some designs. But certainly it is
not necessary to reinvent the wheel by creating a unique design every time a new
school must be built. The term "economy of scale" must be seriously considered by
administrators in charge of new school construction.

This is an issue that should be placed before Florida's new education commissioner,
Charlie Crist. Crist has been making noise about making waves. Here's one for him
to grab and run with.

In the meantime the clock is ticking for the home of the Bobcats. Construction will
start in May or June and the new Boca High will be open in August 2002.