Today is the first day of school in St. Johns County and for the last five years, the school district has been number one in the state based on FCAT scores.

It’s also been an A-rated school district for more than ten years, but it’s academic performance isn’t its only accolade.

The National Safety Council awareded St. Johns County School District for it’s safety and security efforts following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

St. Johns County Superintendent Joe Joyner said it’s a great way to start off another successful school year.

The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that took the lives of 20 children and six staff members rocked the nation. Ever since that day in December of 2012, school districts across the nation reviewed and revamped their security procedures.

“We also looked at our single point of entry and how we control traffic flow into a school and we made some decisions to do some capital work, some building work to help control that a little bit better,” said Dr. Joyner.

Those are some of the efforts an awards committee with the National Safety Council listed when awarding St. Johns schools for its efforts. Only one of seven schools in the are recognized.

“I think we communicated, I think there was some urgency in our actions, I think we moved right away in communicating with our schools. We wanted to consistent message and we sent that message not just to our schools but to our parents,” said Dr. Joyner.

Dr. Joyner said safety and security of students is paramount, and it’s something everyone needs to always have in mind, especially Monday as school starts again.

"The biggest issue is getting them there safely especially the first week or two until routines become established, so be calm and be safe and pay attention,” said Dr. Joyner.

About 33,000 students are heading back to schools in St. Johns County Monday; A number that keeps getting bigger every year. Dr. Joyner said percentage wise, it’s been the fastest growing school district in the state for the last five years.

“We are looking at long range plans because with this level of growth, we’re growing at a rate of about a school a year. We’re essentially out of capital dollars to pay for continued schools and so we’ve got to look at a long term solution and what we’re doing is meeting with the board,” said Dr. Joyner.

Dr. Joyner said they’re working with legislators to help with a long term funding solution but that there are much worst problems to have then dealing with tremendous growth. This year there are two new K-8 schools being built on the north end of St. Johns County.