While the classrooms may be empty now, in less than a week Manatee County students will be crowding in.

  • Manatee County high schools at or above capacity
  • Schools must abide by class size amendment
  • Some schools not available for 'choice' because of overcrowding  

"We’re probably sitting at around 200 over what our capacity would be," said Palmetto High School Principal Carl Auckerman.

Palmetto High School principal Carl Auckerman said they're not alone. Every high school in Manatee County is at or above capacity, with the school district planning on growing another 850 students this year.

"Obviously, with the building boom that seems to back, especially north of the river, we’ve seen an influx in students, you know as a result of new families coming into the area," said Auckerman.

While each school may be at or above the capacity, by law students are not allowed to be packed into the classrooms for core classes.

"We do have to abide by the class size amendment. You know, we’re a district of choice, meaning our students can choose to go to any school they want to," said Manatee County school board spokesman Mike Barber.

"However, because of overcrowding (schools) like Lakewood Ranch High School, like Palmetto High, like Braden River, are closed to choice because they're full," he said.

To combat these problems, a referendum for a half-cent sales tax will be added to November’s ballot, which Barber said could be just what the county needs to build a new school north of the river.

While student growth continues on the eastern and western sides of the county, the middle and elementary schools in the central part of the county remain under capacity.