Future St. Johns County schools already full?

Excitement mixes with rumors among Nocatee residents

Author: Alicia Booth, Reporter, abooth@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:52:27 AM EST   Updated On: Aug 21 2013 06:45:46 PM EDT
NOCATEE, Fla. -

With this school year barely under way in St. Johns County, many parents and students are squarely focused on what's going to happen next year.

Ground was broken in May for two brand new schools in the northern half of the county, and which students will get to go to those schools -- especially the one in the rapidly growing community of Nocatee -- is the subject of much anxiety.

This isn't just a planning issue, it's an emotional one for parents and their children, and it has spawned much speculation and some rumors.

"It's crazy," said Nocatee parent Jennifer Valdivia, who said proximity to the new K-8 school on Greenleaf Drive was one of the driving forces behind her decision to buy a home in the Willow Cove neighborhood.

"When they broke ground on the school, then all the rumors started about our neighborhood and a couple other neighborhoods that the new school is already overcrowded," Valdivia said.

It's an issue this St. Johns County School official is quite familiar with.

"There are probably a lot of rumors out there already of folks in the neighborhoods who say we heard we're out (of space)," said Tim Forson, deputy superintendent of operations. "Well really, we're not there yet."

Forson says the district is still working with the existing schools and developers to make an educated guess about where the bulk of students will be, and it's difficult.

They say trying to pin down the numbers this far in advance can be a little like nailing Jello to the wall.  For example, as a second K-8 school going up near Durbin Crossing, another neighborhood full of new homes is going up right across the street.

The thought that her kids may not get into the new K-8 school makes Toni Pollock feel a little cheated.

"We pay a lot of money to live in this neighborhood with the homeowners association, the CDD fees, and I feel like we deserve to have a new school right here in our neighborhood," said Nocatee parent Toni Pollock.

To address the concerns, the county has scheduled three town hall meetings to discuss the issues:

Sept. 10, 6:30 p.m. at Creekside High School, 100 Knights Lane
Sept. 10, 7:30 p.m. at Hickory Creek Elementary School, 235 Hickory Creek Trail
Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m. at Ponte Vedra High School, 460 Davis Park Road