It began with a dream. City leaders wanted a school for the beleaguered Parramore neighborhood, a collection of industrial businesses and shotgun shacks west of downtown Orlando, where most of the 6,000 residents live in poverty.
The school would be for the 800 or so Parramore children who have been bused to eight different elementary schools. Advocates had almost guaranteed that the kids would come from Parramore: "That has been clearly stated in the application to the Orange County School Board," said Pat Evans, who headed a nonprofit agency that served as a go-between for the city and school officials.
Evans had told city commissioners that the school, which opened Monday as the Nap Ford Community School, would likely have a student body comprising 87 percent Parramore residents.
Commissioner Daisy Lynum had projected the number to be even higher. "We want about 95 percent of the students [to be] from Parramore," she said last May.
Many people were skeptical. They argued that the school was being built for political reasons -- namely to get Lynum reelected and to make Mayor Glenda Hood look good to black constituents. They weren't happy that City Hall had cut corners on the $1.5-million project.
Now that Nap Ford's first class of 88 children are in session, the truth can be told. The grand total of pupils listed as being from Parramore is 16. That's 18 percent of the student body.
Actually, the number of children from Parramore could be even lower because registration figures released by the Orange County School Board were by zip code. Parramore is only a small portion of the 32805 zip, which encompasses 13 mostly black neighborhoods, including Lake Mann, Catalina and Washington Shores. Which means that zero kids from Parramore might be attending.
So remind us: Who is the Parramore school for?