Lake Placid Elementary's enrollment swells
Marc Valero | Highlands TodayLAKE PLACID - It's the home of the Little Green Dragons, but with a growing enrollment, Lake Placid Elementary is not so little; it's the third largest school in the county.
Published: October 18, 2012
Published: October 18, 2012
With 824 students on Oct. 12, Lake Plaid Elementary has more students than Lake Placid Middle (650), Lake Placid High (734) and Hill-Gustat Middle (739), the district's largest middle school.
Only Sebring High (1,613) and Avon Park High (945) have more students than Lake Placid Elementary.
After serving as the school's assistant principal, Carey Conner is facing the enrollment challenge in her first year as principal.
"We have eight portables full; we don't have any more open classrooms, that's for sure," she said.
A 12-classroom addition that was built in 2006 is fully occupied with classes.
This time last year the school had 761 students, she said.
Since the school year started, four teachers and a certified teaching assistant were added at the school.
Lunch is the biggest challenge, Conner said. Lunch previously started at 10:30 a.m. and continued until 1 p.m., but a second serving line that opened this year shaved about 25 minutes off that time.
One lunch table was added this year and most of the tables are scheduled with a seating overlap, meaning that for a few minutes two classes are assigned to the same table.
That's the only way to get them in and out of there," Conner noted. Also, another lunch monitor was hired.
The students are coming from different places, not just from other schools in Florida, she said. Some of them are coming from out of state, but she is not sure where the families are finding employment.
When migrant families come to the area the school's enrollment will increase by about 20 to 30 students, Conner said.
How is she going to accommodate more students?
"I am not sure," she said. "We will put them in a classroom and serve them just like in any year. It's just a little bit more challenging when you have more."
Part of a principal's duties is observing and evaluating teachers.
"I have 56 teachers in the classroom that have to be observed. That's a lot." Conner said. "If I don't work on Saturdays it seems like I'm behind. But I love what I do and I love this staff."
Assistant Superintendent of Business Operations Mike Averyt said, unfortunately, Lake Placid Elementary will be overcrowded because there is limited space at Lake Country Elementary.
An attendance rezoning between the two schools a few years ago didn't help. The next year the population shifted again, prompting a reversal of the rezoning, he said.
In a few years if the population continues to grow in Lake Placid, "we are going to need another elementary school … or at least we will need to build another wing at Lake Country first and bring that up to the normal size and then rezone to move kids from Lake Placid Elementary to Lake Country," Averyt said.
Deputy Superintendent Rodney Hollinger said Lake Placid and Sun 'n Lake elementary schools and Sebring High School are considered "overload" schools, which means transfers to those schools are not granted.
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