St. Johns County to delay opening of new K-8 school in RiverTown neighborhood another year

School will now open for 2025-26 school year

File Photo (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – The St. Johns County School District is planning to push the construction of a new K-8 school in the RiverTown neighborhood back another year.

K-8 school “PP,” which was set to open in time for the 2024-25 school year, is not expected to open until 2025.

Many of the board members said they were disappointed by the decision but understood why it had to be done.

Paul Rose, Executive Director for Facilities and Operations for the district, told the school board on Tuesday the timeline is just too tight given the ongoing challenges for construction, including supply chain issues and labor shortages for skilled workers.

Rose also cited the rising cost of construction for district schools in recent years. For example, last year the school awarded a bid to build K-8 school “NN” for $59 million. Just a few months later, the exact same school design, K-8 school “OO,” got only one bid and it was for $65 million.

MORE: Construction on new K-8 school delayed after bids to build it came in way over budget

The cost of K-8 school “PP” is still unclear as the district hasn’t been put out for bids yet.

“I just implore you to do everything you can to get things moving and to get things going as quickly as possible and to get this school open,” board member Beverly Slough said. “I know it’s not going to open for ‘24, I can see that, but to get it open for ‘25.”

Families had pushed the district to build a new school in RiverTown after the district implemented a school rezoning plan that they said separated children from their neighborhood friends. The new K-8 school in RiverTown will eventually transition into a middle school after another new elementary school is built nearby.

Rose said that K-8 “NN” and K-8 “PP” are still on schedule to be completed in time for the summer of 2024 and open that fall. K-8 “NN” is located in the Shearwater neighborhood and K-8 “OO” is located in the Beacon Lake neighborhood.

The district also said it is “slowly moving toward full completion” of Beachside High School, a school that opened for students last fall.

The school district has been scrambling to build new schools in recent years as its families flock to the top-rated school district.

About the Author:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.