District Officials: New Elementary School Near Arden Community To Open In 2025

James Campbell, director of construction and principal liaison for the School District of Palm Beach County, with School Board Member Marcia Andrews.

Some 175 parents met Monday, April 8 at Binks Forest Elementary School in Wellington to hear about the fast-moving plans for a new school adjacent to the Arden neighborhood off Southern Blvd. near 20-Mile Bend.

The school is scheduled to open in August 2025 with room for up to 971 students in kindergarten through fifth grade, said James Campbell, director of construction and principal liaison for the School District of Palm Beach County.

Most of the 550 students who live in Arden and now travel four miles to attend Binks Forest will be relocated to the new school, district officials said, although students entering fifth grade will be allowed to finish at their current school.

The exact boundaries for what is presently being called the “West Acreage Area Elementary School” will be set next fall, Campbell told those gathered in the Binks Forest cafeteria.

“We’re pushing forward for [construction] to happen as soon as possible,” said Campbell, noting that school officials have reshuffled construction priorities due to overcrowding at the Wellington school.

Binks Forest was built in 1999 with a capacity for 1,206 students. Current enrollment is 1,238, Campbell said, and without relief is projected to top 1,400 in the next several years.

“This is going to be absolutely marvelous,” District 6 School Board Member Marcia Andrews said of the new school. “The teachers and principal will be the best and the brightest.”

Construction is expected to begin in May, said Roby DeReuil of Moss & Associates Construction, which is handling the project. Plans call for walls to start going up in August and the roof to go on in December.

There will be a separate construction entrance for the project off Southern Blvd./State Road 80 west of the main entrance to Arden, he said.

While the timeline is aggressive, the school district’s familiarity with Moss, which has done several recent school projects for the district, gives leadership confidence that it can be achieved, said David Dolan, chief of facilities management for the school district.

The building will be three stories, 95,900 square feet and include multiple playgrounds, said Juan Socorro, project manager for the Miami-based Zyscovich, an international master planning, architecture and interior design firm.

The school will feature a central administration suite, a dining and multipurpose performance space, an arts suite with an art lab, a music lab, a media center with a computing center, state-of-the-art classrooms, a faculty lounge, lesson planning areas and 175 parking places, according to a brochure provided by the district.

One of the school’s most important aspects will be its security features, which include fencing around the perimeter of the 15.6-acre property funneling to a single point of entry, Socorro said.

“This will be one of the most secure schools in the district,” he said. “There’ll be cameras everywhere.”

Zyscovich, which also has offices in West Palm Beach and has designed other projects for the school district, is using Blue Lake Elementary School in Boca Raton as the prototype for the new school near Arden, Socorro said. However, architectural and classroom features will be used to capture the “agrihood” nature of the nearby community, including an indoor-outdoor agriculture lab with hydroponic gardens, planting beds and rainwater cisterns, he explained.

Zyscovich’s strategy “is to find out what is unique about the community and build around it,” he said. “The school will feature a great deal of natural lighting… and the latest technology.”

Access to the school will be via Cane Field Trail. Parents pointed out that Arden is a “golf cart community,” and urged school officials to find a way to include them in their plans.

Andrews said a survey will be conducted in the community to see how parents view the school, student needs and what types of choice programs might be implemented.

Students will be asked “what they envision the school to be about” and the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) also will have a voice, she said.

School officials said there is room on the property to add classrooms or an additional building. There is a possibility that the school could someday be expanded to include through eighth grade, but that decision is far in the future, they said.

Centered around a five-acre farm, ground was broken for Arden in 2017 with some 2,000 homes approved for its 1,209 acres.

More schools are also planned in the western communities over the next several years, including a new high school to relieve Seminole Ridge High School and Wellington High School. A new elementary school also is planned for the City of Westlake, which remains one of the fastest-growing communities in Florida.