Crestwood Middle School in Royal Palm Beach will be the temporary home to hundreds of displaced elementary school students from West Palm Beach when schools resume in August.
Melaleuca Elementary School on Gun Club Road is undergoing a complete renovation project, and Melaleuca’s students will be bused to Crestwood for 2022-23 school year since their school will be a construction zone. The following year, 2023-24, students from Wynnebrook Elementary School on Drexel Road will have their turn being bused to Crestwood as their campus gets its renovation.
“This is not something unique in our district. We actually, three years ago, did the exact same concept for Addison Mizner Elementary School and then moving on to Verde Elementary School,” said James Farrell, senior project administrator with the school district, when he explained the concept to Royal Palm Beach’s Education Advisory Board earlier this year.
Melaleuca’s students are going to be on the southwest corner of the property. “It’s an old maintenance facility yard that we utilized and are able to put the modulars on there,” Farrell said. “There are three structures in Crestwood, three different pods, that will open 11 classrooms. The bus loop will drop right into the holding school.”
Essentially, there will be two independent schools operating on the same campus. They will have separate administrative offices, school resource officers, fencing and points of entry for buses. Parents of the 600-plus students enrolled at Melaleuca were informed that all students would be provided bus transportation to Crestwood and were encouraged to take advantage of the offer.
“From a congestion standpoint, it is no different from what Crestwood is seeing right now,” Farrell said. “We are going to try to have all the buses come off Crestwood Blvd. onto Sparrow. We are hoping that will alleviate some of the congestion.”
Crestwood Principal Dr. Stephanie Nance said that the two schools will not overlap in their start or end times, which will help keep traffic in the area manageable.
“Melaleuca Elementary begins its instructional day at 8 a.m., and Crestwood Middle School begins at 9:30 a.m. It will be staggered, and our buses will be on the opposite side of the campus in terms of drop off as well as pickup,” Nance told the Town-Crier this week. “At the end of the day, our goal is always about school safety. It is always about creating a safety plan in which safe transitions occur for our students from the time they step on to the campus until the time that they leave.”
Regional Superintendent Valerie Zuloaga-Haines sees hosting Melaleuca and then Wynnebrook students as a chance to entice families to enroll in one of Crestwood’s choice programs. Currently, the middle school offers a Pre-Business IT Academy, a STEM Pre-Engineering Academy, and a Multimedia, Music & Communications Academy.
“We want to be able to expose our younger students that typically wouldn’t have access to Crestwood to become a Crestwood Eagle. That could help us in enrollment, and we are looking for this to be a positive impact for Crestwood Middle School,” Haines said.
Nance and her staff are excited about the new avenues for collaboration as well.
“Our focus right now is making sure that Melaleuca Elementary feels welcomed to the grounds of Crestwood Middle School, and that we continue focusing on building those partnerships. It’s an added plus that they, too, are Eagles,” she said, referring to both schools already sharing the same mascot. “Any opportunity that we can provide to be able to give our students first-hand knowledge and information of the middle school journey, I feel as a principal, it is quite advantageous. It allows us to formulate partnerships, open up those lines of communication, teacher to teacher, parent to teacher, administrator to administrator, because ultimately it is about creating a solid academic continuum that will help our kids to be successful.”
While the students and staff from the different schools will remain separate during the campus-share process, there might be chances for fifth-grade students to participate in joint ventures with their older counterparts to help them better transition to middle school.
Village residents and Crestwood families should expect additional communication from the school district providing updates on the potential impacts on traffic for the area around the school.