St. Johns Co. School Board approves rezoning areas

New zoning accommodates growth, new schools

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The St. Johns County School Board has approved rezoning areas of the northern part of the county to accommodate the county's rapid growth and build new schools -- but not everyone is happy about that plan.

A school in Durbin Creek and another in Nocatee are slated to open late next summer. Some parents are concerned about the new boundaries and moving their children around, which is a byproduct of rapid growth.

Denver Cook showed up to Tuesday night's school board meeting to make a point one more time before the board voted.

"Throughout this entire project, I feel, and my community feels, we have not been dealt with openly and honestly," said Cook.

Cook lives in Nocatee where the boundary issue has been most controversial because of competing plans on how to redistrict the area. Cook is concerned about his kids as well as kids being moved from neighboring schools into the new one.

"They could've left part of the kids in Ocean Palms," said Cook. "Instead they're affecting them as well as ours twice. It didn't make sense, kind of splits our community in half."

The school district said this is the price of growth, and while some aren't totally happy with the plans for the two new K-8 schools, they feel most people will be.

"The way the capital funding plan is now, you need to zone strategically," said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner of St. Johns County Schools. "You would love to let people go wherever they want, but we simply have fiscal responsibility to fill as many seats as we can so we don't overcrowd one school while have empty seats at another."

Joyner, who runs the district which places near the top of Florida counties academically, says the growth here is unprecedented, and planning out these new boundaries can be difficult with new people flooding into St. Johns everyday.

"The good news is all the schools where you zone, where you rezone, that's a bigger challenge," said Joyner. "The good news is all the surrounding schools are excellent schools. It's just trying to think through how not to overcrowd one school."

Neither of the new schools planned in St. Johns County have been named. The one in Durbin Creek is just being called School HH, while the one in Nocatee is School II.

The district will begin looking at names next year.

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