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OCPS's Rapid Growth (1940-1969)

Rapid Growth (1940-1969)

In the next two decades, the population of Orange County more than tripled, from 70,074 in 1940 to more than 263,500. Thousands of military personnel and their families moved into the area when Orlando became a major flight training ground for the Army Air Corps.

The district also had to deal with a teacher shortage, as many entered the war effort. Teachers who remained found themselves with more students than ever before. The scarcity of resources also affected transportation. Students in communities like Gotha, Taft, Maitland and Windermere were considered too isolated for students to be transported by school bus. In return, families were paid $5 per month to defray the costs of providing their own transportation to school.
Edgewater High School Opened in 1952.As the district grew, many of the original schools that current residents are familiar with were built – for example, Lake Como Elementary (1951); Jones High (1951); Wheatley Elementary (1951); Boone High (1952); Edgewater High (1952); Orlo Vista Elementary (1952); Dream Lake Elementary (1954); Glenridge Middle (1956); and Evans High (1958).

During this period there was a growing movement in Florida and the nation to improve educational opportunities for black children. The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka ruling made segregation unconstitutional; however, it was several years before desegregation began in Orange County.

For years, black senior high-school students from Tangerine, Zellwood, Plymouth and Apopka were transported as far as 25 miles to Hungerford High School in Eatonville. Likewise, students from Oakland, Winter Garden, Windermere and other areas were transported to Jones High. In 1956, Superintendent Judson Walker recommended senior-high facilities for black students be created in Apopka and Winter Garden by adding grades to existing schools for black students in those communities. Phillis Wheatley in Apopka and Charles Drew in Winter Garden became senior high schools for black students. An additional elementary school for black students was built in Washington Shores.

The road to integration was a bumpy one, and after being sued in 1962, Orange County was under Federal court oversight until 2010, when the district was finally granted “Unitary Status,” indicating that the district had erased all vestiges of past discrimination.
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