VENICE (WWSB) - As the Suncoast continues to see a steady growth in population, Venice High School is overcrowded. Right now, the school is about 300 students over capacity, and for the last month, the Sarasota County School district has debated what to do.
"It's much better to start planning early rather than wait and have to be reactive. Right now, we can be proactive,” Kathie Ebaugh the Director of Planning for the Sarasota County School District, explained. District leaders solicited public opinion in a series of meetings, as they discussed several options -- including the addition of a new wing to the existing high school, sending some students to north port -- or building a new school altogether.
"It was very obvious to me that they wanted a new school, and they were willing to wait and have portables as opposed to having a wing,” Caroline Zucker, the Sarasota County School Board Vice Chair, said.
The district said 97% of the community who gave feedback wanted another school. Most were concerned with traffic and the quality of education that these students would be getting if the current school was expanded.
However, the state says Sarasota County will have to wait to break ground until it has 1,200 students to put in the new school.
"It’s going to be a while before a new school is built, and there will be some growing pains when we add portables and add additional capacity to this campus,” Ebaugh explained.
In the meantime, the school district is getting everything ready for when that time comes. They have decided the new school will be built in the West Villages area. "We're working with them now. They're very excited about having a high school in their community and being a family-oriented development," Ebaugh told us.
The exact year on when this new high school will be built all depends on how fast South County grows over the next few years, but students would be coming not only from Venice, but North Port and even Englewood.