With new St. Johns County K-8 delayed, school rezoning process continues with new proposals

Shock and disappointment in St. Johns County after the school board decided to postpone the construction of a new school. The board voted Tuesday night to reject three bids to build a new K-8 school in Northern St. Johns County because the bids came in high.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Shock and disappointment in St. Johns County after the school board decided to postpone the construction of a new school.

The board voted Tuesday night to reject three bids to build a new K-8 school in Northern St. Johns County because the bids came in high.

“We had speculated what the cost might be for this and we were way off when bids were open. We were shocked,” said Paul Rose, Executive Director of Facilities and Operations.

Just two years ago the district built the same K-8 model for $37 million. But the lowest bid to build a new K-8 in the Shearwater community this time is estimated to be $56 million.

School Board member Beverly Slough, who represents the area, said it’s disappointing.

“Because it was going to be a kingpin in helping us mitigate the overcrowding at Freedom Crossing,” Slough said.

Now instead of K-8 NN school opening in 2023, it won’t open until 2024, and News4JAX Insiders had plenty to say about it.

“If the county can’t afford to build the schools they need to stop building houses. Plain and simple,” said one Insider.

“Change the design to only essential building elements,” another said.

Despite the delay in the construction of that new school for another year, the district is still moving forward with rezoning to help overcrowded schools in the northwest part of the county and presented new proposals last night.

But the district still has to deal with overcrowded schools, so it is moving forward with controversial proposals to rezone neighborhoods mostly along County Road 210.

The biggest changes will likely affect Freedom Crossing Academy which is about 500 students over capacity. Proposals suggest moving more than 300 students from that school to Patriot Oaks Academy.

Parents in northwest St. Johns County neighborhoods spoke out against some of the nine different rezoning options presented to the board Tuesday night.

“I am asking, and begging to not split up Rivertown,” said Anna Cardoza, a Rivertown neighborhood.

“We really don’t want to have to see her move, be rezoned from one overpopulated school to another overpopulated school to only be moved again once that school in Beacon Lake is built,” said Duston Scott, who lives in the Beachwalk neighborhood.

Slough said rezoning is a difficult process and the board is working hard to put the best proposals forward.

“Zoning is the hardest thing that school boards do. And in all my years of experience, this is the most difficult one we’ve ever done,” Slough said.

The school board will meet again on April 26 to decide on the zoning changes it likes best with the goal of approving them by May 31, in time for the next school year.


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