New schools will help with St. Johns County overcrowding

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Melanie Harris, her husband and her six sons moved to St. Johns County because it's one of the best school systems in the state.

"I have one child who's dyslexic and one that's severely hyperactive, and i just felt like in Duval County they were getting lost in the shuffle, they weren't getting that personal attention," Harris said. "So it was just important to us that they got their niche and were loved like they are at home."

But there's a price to pay for being at the top. In St. Johns County, it's overcrowding, which means some students will have to switch schools when new ones are built.

"I like that they're nearby," parent Tom McManus said of St. Johns County schools. "If it's too far away, then we'll consider maybe another route, but we'll cross that bridge when it comes."

"I think I'd be a little heartbroken," Harris said. "We really every year luck out with amazing teachers who become friends that even in the summer if we see them, they hug our kids and remember their names and they're not just a number, they're a person."

But that's the problem for more schools in the county -- too many numbers.

The northwest section of the county is getting a new school next year, which will include all of Durbin Crossing developments.

The northeast section of the county is also getting a new school.

Who's going to it? Plan A includes kids in the western section of Nocatee and subdivisions close to the school. Plan B includes all of Nocatee.

To accommodate the county's growth of 700-1,000 students a year, the district would need to build a new school every year, which is going to be difficult.

"Our funding and our bonding capacity is maxed out today, and so it will take growth and revenue, and that usually trails behind the growth of homes and development," St. Johns County Superintendent Tim Forson said. "So we'll always be pushing a little bit behind the curve and have stress in those areas where the growth is very fast."

The district plans to accommodate that growth other ways until it has the revenue to build even more schools in the future.

"It just shows that it's a great system, it's a great place to live," McManus said.