To maintain a coveted seat this year at , families had to prove this summer they lived in the attendance zone.
The result: The campus has about 160 fewer students than last year, the first time in 15 years the has fallen.
The school, with a capacity of 2,928, has 3,404 students this year — down 161 from last year, Principal Susie King said. Projections had shown the school expected 3,564 if growth patterns continued.
School officials credit, in part, an investigation of “boundary-jumpers,” or families who live outside Boca High’s attendance zone but manage to show paperwork that they live in the neighborhood.
Every Boca High family had to show two pieces of paperwork, such as an electric bill and a rent receipt, proving that they live within the school’s boundaries.
Those proofs were double-checked by a vendor, which confirmed addresses through public records. About 400 of 2,659 addresses submitted were flagged for reasons such as the family owning a homesteaded property outside the Boca High zone, said Jason Link, Palm Beach County’s manager of school enrollment and demographics.
These families had to offer additional proof of where they live, he said. Link said he didn’t know how many lost their right to attend the school through this process.
The vetting procedure was one of several undertaken this summer to reduce Boca High’s student body. The district also limited seats in the school’s Navy Junior ROTC and special-education programs, Link said.
It’s not the first time the school district has tried to reduce overcrowding at a school by finding boundary violators.
went through the process two years ago, and Sunset Palms Elementary west of Boynton Beach did it four years ago. Calusa remains filled past its capacity, while Sunset Palms is now about 97 percent full.
Many parents want the school district to find boundary-jumpers so there’s more room for their kids. Boca High parent Joe Martinez said the overcrowding has become unbearable.
“You can’t even get up and down the three flights of stairs to change classes,” said Martinez, parent of a sophomore. “The pushing and shoving to get through is terrible.”
Still, some parents say the A-rated school has done a good job of managing the masses.
“I love Boca High and the overcrowding has never affected my kids’ quality of education,” parent Jessica Brockman said. “We just had open school night and the teachers are top-notch.”
Boca High’s population has been rising steadily since around 2003, when took over.
The school had fewer than 1,900 students at the time, and he sought to make the campus more attractive with a later start time, new magnet programs and new faculty. The school expanded to 2,800 students by 2010 and reached its peak last year at 3,564.
McKee was principal until 2016. King, the current principal, said she has been working hard to manage the crowding, with two lunch periods, a new traffic circulation plan and paying teachers extra money if they teach an additional class.
The crowding is more of an issue for parents than students, parent Suzanne Katz said.
“I’ve only heard parents complain, not students,” she said. “I can’t imagine 160 kids has made much difference.”
The Boca High population likely will continue to drop in the coming years: A boundary change is expected for the 2019-20 school year, which would send many students in the attendance zone to neighboring schools to relieve Boca High.