Orange County Public Schools
Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is the public school district for Orange County, Florida. It is based out of the Educational Leadership Center, a seven-story building adjacent to the Amway Arena in Downtown Orlando. As of October 2009, OCPS has an enrollment of over 175,000 students, making it the 12th largest school district in the United States. The school district also employs over 19,000 instructional and classified employees, which make up more than 96% of the OCPS work force.
The superintendent of Orange County Public Schools is Dr. Barbara Jenkins. The position of superintendent is appointed by the school board. The district is overseen by the Orange County School Board, a body of seven elected officers, each board member sitting for a particular geographic district. School Board districts are not analogous in any way with County Commission districts. As of 2010, the current School Board members, in order of district number, are Joie Cadle, Daryl Flynn, Rick Roach, Vicky Bell, Kathleen "Kat" Gordon, Nancy Robbinson and Christine Moore.
Board members are elected every four years with no term limits, with Districts 1 through 3 elected during midterm election cycles (next in 2010) and Districts 4 through 7 elected during presidential cycles (next in 2012). School Board elections in Orange County are non-partisan.
A county wide public vote in 2009 created the elected position of School Board Chairman. Bill Sublette was subsequently elected to this position in 2010. One of these schools in this district is Bridgewater Middle School.
OCPS has used an attendance model of Kindergarten through Grade 5 for elementary schools, Grades 6–8 for middle school and Grades 9–12 for high school since 1988. Before then, Grade 6 was part of elementary school and Grade 9 was part of middle school (called Junior High in OCPS prior to 1988). As now required by Florida law, virtually all elementary schools have Pre-Kindergarten programs.
OCPS has 178 regular-attendance schools as of the 2009–10 school year: 125 elementary, 34 middle and 19 high. Three of the middle schools are really K–8 schools, but are classified by OCPS as middle schools. In addition, one high school (Lake Nona High) currently houses middle school students as well. The district also has an adult education system with six dedicated campuses and night classes at most high schools, four dedicated special education schools as well as a hospital/homebound program, and dozens of alternative education centers, including charter schools. Six of the high schools in OCPS have separate ninth-grade centers, three of them off-site of the main campus, built after the shift from K–6/7–9/10–12 to K–5/6–8/9–12. One more elementary schools is scheduled to open for the 2010–11 school year.
The schools of OCPS are divided into six areas called Learning Communities: North, East, West, Southeast, Southwest and Central. Central was known as the "Urban Cohort" until 2005. Southeast and Southwest were split from a larger South Learning Community in 2006.
The district is in an aggressive expansion and school improvement project being fueled by a 0.5% sales tax option passed by the voters of Orange County in 2002. Skyrocketing land and materials costs, however, has outpaced faster-than-expected sales tax revenue increases and slowed progress. Many projects have been pushed back, and some have been cancelled altogether. The district is currently working on extending the half-penny option tax in 2012, when it is set to expire.
Most paperwork distributed to students and parents by OCPS is available in both English and Spanish. Many such documents are also available in Portuguese, Vietnamese and Haitian Creole, due to the significant populations in Orange County that speak each language.
Prior to 1952, there were only two high schools in the City of Orlando: Orlando High School and Jones High School, which was a Segregation-era Black-only high school until integration was enforced. Other municipalities in the County had high schools: Apopka, Florida; Winter Park, Florida; Ocoee, Florida; Winter Garden, Florida (Lakeview H.S.), and Eatonville, Florida (Hungerford H.S.).
In 1952, Orlando High was split into what became Edgewater High School and William R. Boone High School. Originally to be named "Orlando North" and "Orlando South", respectively, Orlando South took its modern name after its principal, William R. Boone, died before it opened. Orlando North took the name of the road it was built on, Edgewater Drive. The former Orlando High campus became Howard Middle School. Jones High moved to its present location in 1952, which was reconstructed in 2004.
In 1975, Ocoee High School and Lakeview High School were closed (their old campuses then housed Junior High schools of the same names) and their students went to the new West Orange High School. 31 years later, a new Ocoee High School was built and opened in 2006.
Hungerford High School in the historically black community of Eatonville was renamed Wymore Tech and Wymore Career Education Center until it became Hungerford Preparatory School in the 1990s and operated as a Magnet School with out a specific geographic attendance zone. OCPS closed Hungerford Prep in 2008.
Ten of the district's high schools have been opened in the last 25 years, not including reconstructed campuses for existing schools.
In parentheses is the nickname of the school's athletics teams.
- Apopka High School (Blue Darters)
- William R. Boone High School (Braves)
- Colonial High School (Grenadiers)
- Cypress Creek High School (Bears)
- Dr. Phillips High School (Panthers)
- Edgewater High School (Eagles)
- East River High School (Falcons)
- Maynard Evans High School (Trojans)
- Freedom High School (Patriot)
- Jones High School (Tigers)
- Lake Nona High School (Lions)
- Oak Ridge High School (Pioneers)
- Ocoee High School (Knights)
- Olympia High School (Titans)
- Timber Creek High School (Wolves)
- University High School (Cougars)
- Wekiva High School (Mustangs)
- West Orange High School (Warriors)
- Winter Park High School (Wildcats)
- Actor Wesley Snipes; noted theoretical physicist Sylvester James Gates, NFL players Kevin Lewis, Nate Newton, and Tim Newton graduated from Jones High School.
- Actor/comedian Wayne Brady, singer Joey Fatone, singer/actor Luis Fonsi and baseball players A.J. Pierzynski and Johnny Damon graduated from Dr. Phillips High School, in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood.
- Professional Running back NFL Player Chris Johnson graduated from Olympia High School
- Baseball player Zack Greinke and football players Warren Sapp and Brandon Meriweather graduated from Apopka High School.
- Basketball players Marquis Daniels and Darius Washington Jr. graduated from Edgewater High School.
- Basketball player Amar'e Stoudemire graduated from Cypress Creek High School.
- Recording artist Brian McKnight, football player Brandon Siler, and basketball player Darryl Dawkins graduated from Evans High.
- Marshall Warren Nirenburg, biochemist and geneticist, Medal of Honor recipient Larry Smedley, actor Buddy Ebsen and astronaut John Young attended Orlando High School, now Howard Middle School.
- Actress Delta Burke graduated from Colonial High School.