With few commercial structures, Coral Springs’ total population in the 1960s was only 2,200. Children had to attend classes in Margate, and then in Coconut Creek. In 1971, Coral Springs Elementary School opened with just a few portables, 18 of which were assembled on property along Coral Hills Drive, now the location of Broward Health Coral Springs. Prepared for 300 students, 600 showed up and had to attend double sessions. Some residents remember spending the entire day driving their youngsters back and forth. The units were arranged in a circle, like covered wagons, rather than in rows. Assemblies were held in the center, but only after teachers had checked for any rattlesnakes that might be sleeping in the sun on the trailer steps.
In 1970, the Broward County School Board passed a resolution for construction of an actual school building on Northwest 35th Court near Sample Road. When it opened in 1972, it was to be Coral Springs Elementary, but instead, it was dedicated as Hunt Elementary School in honor of the city’s founder, James S. Hunt, who passed away earlier that year. Designed for 650 students, enrollment increased to 862 within a month.
Although the school system was under Broward County’s authority, the city developer, Coral Ridge Properties, wanted the student experience to be exceptional. Female crossing guards were dressed in Christian Dior-inspired uniforms, which included hats, gloves and the popular go-go boots of the 1970s. When Coral Ridge Properties told them they could no longer afford to pay them 50 cents a day, the ladies offered to be responsible for their uniforms in order to receive the salary. When the developer agreed, the guards discarded the boots.
The population grew so fast that decade that seven additional schools were built. High school students no longer had to be bused to Pompano Beach High School, Deerfield Beach High School or to double sessions at Coconut Creek High. By 1980, the population of Coral Springs was 38,000. An additional 12 schools opened over the next 20 years, yet portables are still in use because of the burgeoning student population.
There was even a plan to bring a higher level of learning to the city. In the 1960s, Annapu Road was to become part of a 50-mile link of roadways connecting the colleges of Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties (the name wasn’t changed to Miami-Dade County until 1997). The entire highway was renamed University Drive. Nova Southeastern University had a Coral Springs campus from 1976 to 1992, originally in the Westinghouse Design Center just northeast of the intersection of Sample Road and University Drive. About 20 years later, Broward College opened its first campus in northwest Broward County on the northwest corner of the intersection.
Today, Coral Springs is home to 19,000 children under the age of 18 who attend 20 public schools, 13 private schools and nine charter schools. Looks like we’ve come a long way!