Seminole County schools face tough expansion decisions

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Seminole County school leaders have some tough decisions to make about how to handle student growth they didn't expect.

There are hundreds of new students this year, and now there's talk about building a new school.

Channel 9's Bianca Castro asked why the district can't open schools it closed two years ago.

School officials said they have to get ready for population growth, prompting more than a dozen new subdivisions and apartment complexes going up in the northern part of the county.

The school board may have to make some big decisions in 2014.

A long headache-filled rezoning process balanced out Seminole Elementary School students.

But leaders didn't anticipate newcomers like Elisa Romero's son.

"We moved here from Volusia County and the improvement I've seen in him is really good so I'm happy with how he's improved," Romero said.

About 400 new students are filling some schools to the brim and 14 major housing projects could mean even more students.

One possibility on the table is building a new $17 million school on 15 acres of land the district owns at Yankee Lake Road and CR-46.

It's an idea school board members don't take lightly.

"If we were to commit to building a new school, I see, I see hundreds of red eyes and thousands of people and, and I see torches," school board member Diane Bauer said.

Eyewitness News learned opening back up Longwood Elementary isn't an option.

The school was closed two years ago to save money but it's not located where all the growth is happening, and where Romero plans to stay put.

"I'll be staying around here and hopefully he'll continue to do well," Romero said.

Just because they're being built, doesn't mean people will buy and move into these homes. School board members say they will see how the housing market does over the next few months before deciding to build.

Right now school district leaders say they'll use portable buildings to accommodate the growth.