Development could bring even more students than originally expected

Silverleaf developer proposes options removing age restrictions from 1,700 homes

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ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The Silverleaf community in St. Johns County could bring even more students to the school district than previously expected. 

The development will be built on 8,500 acres of land along county roads 210 and 16A and could take up to 20 years to be completed. It is projected to bring about 11,000 new homes to the area.

At a St. Johns County School Board workshop Tuesday morning, the board was presented with two new options from the developer of Silverleaf. 

Both options remove an age restriction, which would require the homeowner to be over 55, from about 1,700 homes. That means more families with children would be able to move into those homes, which would have a greater impact on the school district. 

"We're talking about a high school student generation that went from about 1,200 to about 1,500, so just on about that level, at least 300 or more students with those additional homes," said Superintendent Tim Forson. 

VIEW: Presentation on Silverleaf

The superintendent said that doesn't even include the K-8 students, which could be hundreds more. Originally, the Silverleaf community was estimated to bring as many as 5,000 students to the school district.

Another new component in one of the developer's proposed options is not providing an onsite or offsite high school and, instead, paying the school district for the cost of the adjacent lot. Then the school district would have to find a high school location elsewhere, which Forson does not support.

"If there are 1,500 students that are going to be living in that project, then I think it’s important if we can provide a high school immediately in the project or adjacent to the project, we should try to do that," Forson said. 

If the developer chooses to build the high school adjacent to the property, it would pay for the district to build a driveway that would connect Silverleaf to the school, to avoid traffic having to go in and out of the neighborhood onto the busy County Road 16A.

At next week's school board meeting on April 9, the school board can decide to either give a recommendation or not give a recommendation to the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, which will ultimately make the final decision on this in May.