Hundreds of students must switch schools in Nassau County

Some Yulee High students must go to Fernandina Beach under rezoning

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Ashley Harding - Reporter, News4Jax.com Staff

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. - Big changes are coming to two Nassau County school zones, which means about 300 students will be attending a different school next year.

The school board unanimously voted Thursday night to approve the changes. The decision primarily impacts students in Yulee and Fernandina Beach.

READ: Full Proposal From Nassau County Schools

Nassau County is home to thousands of students. School leaders said there have been issues with overcrowding, and this is the solution.

The new Zone 1, which represents Fernandina Beach, includes Old Nassauville Road. Students who live on that road had been in Zone 2, which represents Yulee, so they will have to change schools.

Rachel Hoffman, a sophomore at Yulee High School, is one of the students who is rezoned to attend Fernandina Beach High School, which she says is unfair because her whole life is in Yulee.

“I was a little bit mad. I was like, 'This is outrageous.' They don’t make the kids that live on 108 go to Hilliard. They have buses that come to Yulee,” Hoffman said. “I have grown up here since primary, elementary, middle and high, and I’m not too keen to going to Fernandina Beach.”

Kyla O’Conner, a student who helps in the front office at Yulee High School, said she has seen a string of confused students and parents trying to find out if they can stay at Yulee.

The district had four meetings with the public before voting on the rezoning. Officials said that although Yulee High was built in 2006, the growth in the area has been so much that they need to send students to Fernandina Beach High, which was built in 1991, and can hold more students than the number currently enrolled.

The district said the reason is simple: overcrowding. Fernadina Beach schools have 900 students compared to Yulee schools where 1,300 students are maxing out class space, which includes about 15 portable classrooms.

“Oh it’s super packed,” student Sarah Raul said. “When we have schedule changes at the beginning of each semester, we have people getting denied getting into certain classes that they need to graduate because there are so many kids.”

The district said students entering their senior year will be allowed to graduate with their class and not have to move schools.

Parents will have the option to apply for a waiver for their children to stay at Yulee High School, but they will have to provide their own transportation to the school if they want to stay, and the application must be approved first.

“Some people I guess are upset because they are leaving school,” student Sabrina Jones said. “(But) some wanted to, so it’s a good opportunity for them.”

This all comes as the county is working to open a new K-5 school,  Wildlight Elementary, which is expected to open for the start of the 2017-2018 school year with about 600 students.