Lisa Kunze, the principal of Allen D. Nease High School, said Nease is experiencing growth rather than an overcrowding situation, and the school is addressing concerns by adding more classrooms and tweaking its schedule.
“We’ve had an increase in growth because of the neighborhoods that are in our attendance zone,” the principal said. “We have Nocatee that’s still building and selling homes, and we have new neighborhoods that are being developed.”
Nease High School’s attendance zone includes all of Nocatee and “lots of neighborhoods that are growing,” Kunze added.
The principal insisted that Nease is not experiencing an overcrowding situation because the high school now has enough room to accommodate its student population with the addition of a new building named Panther Hall.
“We have enough seats,” she said. “Yes, our student population has increased, but we’re able to accommodate all of these students.”
According to Kunze, Nease added 13 classrooms along with rooms created for engineering labs and a hospitality and tourism academy. The additional space freed up a total of 16 classrooms in the existing school building, but it did not mitigate the congested breezeways and crowded cafeteria.
Kunze said part of the problem is the way students are navigating.
"They’re not considerate to each other and walking on the right-hand side so people can walk in both directions," she asserted. "They might have to change the route that they were going to take and maybe not go a route so they can talk to their friends that maybe go a different route, so that it’s not as congested.”
School administrators resolved this problem by giving students more time to get to class, Kunze noted. The principal said students in portable classrooms are now released one minute early to give them a head start and alleviate the breezeway traffic jam.
Despite expanding its cafeteria last year, Kunze acknowledged that Nease does not have a large enough facility to accommodate 2,400 students at one time. Consequently, staff members divided the lunch schedule to make more seats available.
"The juniors and seniors eat first," Kunze said. "And then it’s trying to get them to leave so that there are seats for the ninth and 10th graders when they come in for lunch.”
Although some parents might be concerned about overcrowding, Kunze maintained that Nease has already accommodated its students, and the large school population has not impeded academic progress.
“I don’t think [growth] negatively impacted them,” she said. “Are the breezeways more congested, the cafeteria more crowded? Sure. But they just have to alter their path so that they take the route that they take to get to their classes.”