From Orange County Public Schools
As the bus loop for a future K-8 school emerges from the dirt in a lot south of Kelly Park Road, Katie McLeod is watching with excitement.
The Apopka mother of four expects all of her children to attend the school, which is one of five new Orange County Public Schools set to open in August 2022. Along with a middle school in Horizon West, the K-8 school in Apopka recently began construction. The site has been cleared, yellow construction vehicles are grading and leveling the site, and building pads are being formed.
The Kelly Park Road area, as well as Horizon West in Southwest Orange County, are experiencing rapid growth, and Orange County Public Schools is responding with another wave of new construction. In 2022, Orange County Public Schools will open a total of five new schools – the two that just began construction as well as two elementary schools in Horizon West and another elementary in the Meadow Woods/Boggy Creek area.
“We’ve continued to see home sales rise in the west and the overall community, and we’re anticipating even more students,” said School Board Vice Chair Pam Gould, who represents southwest Orange County. “I’m glad we have the budget to do this.”
The Horizon West middle school, now known as Site 132-M-W-4, has a $47.9 M budget and is located in Horizon West’s Town Center area. The K-8, Site 90-K8-N-7, has a $49 M budget. The schools will be named early next year.
McLeod is looking forward to having the only OCPS K-8 school in northwest Orange County so close to her home. She knows about the family-like atmosphere at kindergarten through eighth-grade schools, having attended one and also taught at one.
“It’s going to be that community neighborhood school where your kids can ride their bike, walk to school. It will help more families come into the neighborhood,” said McLeod, whose children are 9, 7, 5 and 3.
School Board Member Melissa Byrd said the K-8 has been a long time coming. “The community is really excited. I’m happy to see it start.”
The K-8 is based on a prototype design by Zyscovich Architects and is being built by Wharton-Smith. The middle school uses a prototype designed by HuntonBrady Architects and is being built by Welbro. The K-8 alone will use 7,300 cubic yards of concrete and employ about 400 workers.
David Romero, Wharton-Smith’s project manager for the K-8, said the best is yet to come: “My favorite day is that first day of school in 2022 when we can watch the excited faces of students as they enter their new school. That’s a great day!”