ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – The St. Johns County School District this week announced plans for two more new schools to be built in the next two years.
It comes as the district tries to manage the staggering growth that’s led to overcrowding in schools.
The two new K-8 schools, along with another K-8, will all be built in the northwestern part of the county where most of that growth is concentrated. Parents in one large neighborhood say it’s about time.
The school district said the schools are desperately needed because the student population has grown 7% in the last year and its showing no signs of slowing down. The district has added more than 13,000 students in the last 10 years.
Plans for two new schools were just revealed during a board meeting on Tuesday. The schools will be built in the Beacon Lakes and River Town neighborhoods.
Those schools, along with another new K-8 already planned for the Shearwater neighborhood, are all expected to open in time for the 2024-2025 school year.
“These three schools will help immensely. We need at least two more, and then after that, more than that, but we’re getting there. And it’s certainly three is a great big help,” said school board member Beverly Slough.
That’s big news for River Town resident and father of three John Farley.
“We were all pretty excited. We had kind of heard a rumor that they’d be discussing plans for the new school,” Farley said.
Farley and his neighbors have been pushing for the district to build a new school in River Town after the district proposed a school rezoning plan that would have separated his children from their neighborhood friends.
“They play with their neighborhood friends quite a bit. And, you know, being schlepped to different schools and then having to flip again, in two years, it was just, we weren’t really excited about that,” Farley said.
That new K-8 school in River Town will eventually transition into a middle school after another new elementary school is built nearby.
The county expects to spend about $193 million on the three new K-8s and will start getting bids for construction in the coming months.
Also coming in the next five years is another new elementary school and a classroom expansion at South Woods Elementary School in Elkton.
Slough said without the money generated from the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2015, “we couldn’t be doing any of this.”