Orange County officials are preparing to open five new schools for the coming year, and three of them will be in the fast growing Horizon West community.

It’s an area that has seen rapid growth over the last decade — from 14,000 residents in 2010 to more than 58,000 in 2020.

What You Need To Know

  •  Five new schools are opening in Orange County for the coming school year

  •  Three of them will be opening in the Horizon West community

  • Data shows at the population of Horizon West went from 14,000 in 2010 to more than 58,000 in 2020

Anna Rodriguez Cruz and her dad Victor Rodriguez Garcia were soaking in the lasts weeks of summer Tuesday before she heads off to the fifth grade.

They moved to the Hamlin area about two years ago, and since that time, they’ve seen the number of people in the area and in the schools skyrocket. It is why Rodriguez Garcia said he is thrilled more schools are opening nearby. 

“It is better because a lot of people is moving to the area, it is important, education is very important,” he said. 

Hamlin Elementary, Hamlin Middle and Panther Lake Elementary will all open in Horizon West in August. Kelly Park School will open in Apopka, while Stonewyck Elementary will open in Meadow Woods. 

Orange County Schools District 4 School Board Member Pam Gould said the new schools will not impact class sizes as those are set by the state, but they will relieve overcrowding.

“Where it really has effect is on the infrastructure and the right size of the school, so when you are looking at extracurriculars like band, some of the PE classes and sports programs, that is where we really see that inflation," she said. "Lunch time, that is where we see that inflation in use of the facility."

According to Orange County Schools, the new schools will add nearly 5,000 seats of capacity to the nation’s ninth-largest school district, for a total of 210 schools during the 2022-23 school year. Gould said while this should help overcrowding now, more schools will be needed in the near future.

“There is a whole corridor of growth around Horizon West," she said. Certainly Winter Garden has grown exponentially, Ocoee has grown exponentially, the zip code of Windermere has grown exponentially, so its not just the footprint of Horizon West, but it is everything around it and connected to it as well."

Rodriguez Garcia said he hopes his daughter will get to attend one of the new state-of-the-art schools when she gets older.

“I think good things are coming,." he said.

Gould said the county has already identified more prospective school sites throughout the area, and the district is just waiting to see where exactly people will move to. Horizon West is slated to get a fourth new school in 2023, and then a fifth in 2024.

According to the district, 207,000 students are currently enrolled in Orange County Schools.