OP-ED: New Avalon Charter School Proposal Will Create New Problems, Not Solve Area’s Overcrowding Situation

    With the county expanding land development, it is the school board who is tasked with providing quality school buildings and academics.


    By Sean Ashby


    Live, work, and play is what my family has been doing in Avalon Park for the last 10 years. As a resident we are appreciative of the festivals, farmers markets, restaurants, shopping, and most importantly, the high quality schools which have been provided by Avalon Park Group. However, as our community and surrounding areas continue to grow, today’s and tomorrow’s students need long term educational facility solutions.


    The latest proposal for a charter school in the heart of downtown Avalon Park is wrong for the students and the community. It calls for a 1600 student, 6-12 middle/high school in the vacant lot across from the present YMCA. The negatives of this proposal are numerous, and the positives are few:


    • Charter schools do not have student attendance zones. Students who apply can come from anywhere in the county, not providing the relief sought for Avalon Middle.


    • Using state tax monies to operate, charter schools have less academic and financial oversight than traditional public schools. In the past few years and even as recent as the past couple of weeks, charter schools close in the middle of the year sometimes with no notice, and almost always due to questionable financial policies. In each and every instance of a charter school’s failure, the student’s’ academic progress is tragically harmed, resulting in local public schools picking up the pieces.


    • The site violates the county code requiring high schools to be built on roadways with adequate capacity to carry student and parent traffic during high volume time during evening and special events. Building this school on a one-way street through the heart of downtown will stifle traffic, and prevent resident visits to local businesses.


    • Parking, parking, parking


    • The site is only 2.5 acres. A far cry from the Timber Springs plot at almost 17 acres, and the current Orange County high school recommendation of 65 acres.


    But hey, if the school is built, at least the kids will have a bar across the street to hang out at. (Which by the way would violate Orange County’s 1000ft requirement)


    It’s time for the Board of County Commissioners to stop dragging their feet, and approve the Timber Springs relief school. Our students and our community is yet another victim in the string of bullying by the commission over the school board. With the county expanding land development, it is the school board who is tasked with providing quality school buildings and academics. However, the county is stifling and preventing the school board from making necessary additions tokeep up with the growth which the county approves.


    Sean Ashby is a resident of Avalon Park, and veteran educator at Timber Creek HS.