New Manatee County high school will help reduce overcrowding in classrooms

North River High is expected to open in 2019

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - Crowded hallways and classrooms. It iss a challenge some schools are facing in Manatee County. The district is breaking ground Tuesday on its newest high school, hoping to cut down on overcrowding by 2019.

"This is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country,” said Don Murphy, whose grandson is a sophomore at Lakewood Ranch High School.

Blame the overcrowding on the warm weather or flourishing economy. Either way, it is forcing more high school students to squish together and make room for everyone.

"He mentioned the lunchroom is really backed up waiting in line, and by the time you get your food he says there’s not a whole lot of time to eat,” said Murphy.

"It will probably be at capacity shortly after we open it as well,” said Cynthia Saunders, the Deputy Superintendent for Manatee County Schools.

Saunders says North River High and two others schools, funded by a half cent sale tax, are the solution. North River High is expected to open in Parrish in 2019. The new school will be able to hold over 2,000 students.

Saunders says it will start first with 9th and 10th graders first, adding on additional grade levels every year. This way they are not pulling kids out of a high school they have been at for more than a year. Murphy, who is also a former teacher in a different district, hopes it also cuts down on classroom sizes.

"A good ratio is like 25 to 1,” Murphy said, "You can give more individual attention if you have a smaller class size."

The district is having a board workshop next Tuesday to discuss zoning changes. They will be voting on the changes in January 2018.

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