Panther Run Elementary could officially become part of Wellington

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A school you probably think is already within Wellington’s boundaries could officially become part of the village within the next few months.

Wellington and Palm Beach County School District officials are working together to annex Panther Run Elementary from unincorporated Palm Beach County into village limits.

It’s largely a ceremonial move, with the school populated by mostly Wellington students and receiving many of the benefits of other schools already within Wellington, Village Manager Jim Barnes said.

“We’ve always treated it like a Wellington school, so it just makes sense that it be in the boundaries of Wellington,” he said.

About 80% of students who attend Panther Run are Wellington residents, said Kristin Garrison, director of Planning and Intergovernmental Relations for the School District. The school also receives the annual Keely Spinelli grant from the village, which this year awarded more than $36,000 to the 11 schools that serve primarily Wellington students.

“The school property is clearly a logical extension of Wellington’s boundaries and District staff views this as an appropriate next step from a regional planning perspective,” she said.

Annexing the school into Wellington will help particularly in terms of some services the village is expected to provide there, but cannot because it’s technically outside the village boundaries, Barnes said.

One of those issues is traffic control. Because Panther Run is just outside Wellington’s boundaries, the school has to go to a different branch of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office to help coordinate additional deputies on busy days or for events. Once inside the village, the school will be served by PBSO’s District 15, which covers Wellington, and village officials will be able to help coordinate that assistance.

The school property is a roughly 20-acre triangle, with the 130,000 square feet of building area on the eastern side.

For the annexation to move forward, the School Board must vote in support of the move at the Oct. 19 meeting. Then the process involves three components with the village:

  • An application to annex the property into Wellington.
  • An application to add the property to Wellington’s Future Land Use Map (FLUM) as CF (Community Facilities), which is the appropriate designation for schools in Wellington’s Comprehensive Plan, from the county’s LR-2 FLUM designation.
  • An application to rezone the property from the county’s AR (Agricultural Residential) to CF (Community Facilities) on Wellington’s zoning map.

If School Board members approve the annexation on Oct. 19 — it’s on their consent agenda, which means no discussion unless a board member asks to discuss it at the meeting; otherwise, it will be voted on with a batch of other items — Wellington could begin its part of the process in November or December, Barnes said.

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