Q: Do you have any updates to share as to how the St. Johns County School District is addressing the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act?
A: The School District and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office have formed a work group that is looking at all the different plans that could be used to secure our campuses — everything from hardening the campuses to additional law enforcement presence. At our workshop on April 24, school board members will receive an analysis on how much all the options would cost. No vote will be taken at the workshop; most probably any vote will come at the May 8 school board meeting.
Q: What options do you think are being considered?
A: I think the options will include taking advantage of the guardian program of the bill, which would allow for school employees to be specially trained and then permitted to be armed; form our own police force, which would most likely be cost prohibitive; and to partner with the SJSO to provide a School Resource Officer at each school. There is money available in the budget for enhancing school safety and providing School Resource Officers, but probably not enough. So we will have to figure out the funding.
Q: What can you tell us about the active shooter drill that was held at Creekside High School on March 29?
A: This event was very informative. There was a lot of information about first aid and then several scenarios were acted out as to what to do depending on where a shooting occurred on a school campus. The Sheriff’s deputies and first responders were basically practicing their potential roles and I felt encouraged and safe watching them.
Q: What is the latest on Freedom Crossing Academy, the K–8 school under construction in Aberdeen?
A: Construction is proceeding on schedule. I visited the site recently and the school is huge. It’s bigger than any of our other schools with the exception of a high school. It has three stories and includes an art lab, music rooms and a larger cafeteria than we typically build. Principal Allen Anderson is hiring teachers and staff and furniture will be delivered shortly. The school’s mascot will be the Falcons. When the school opens in August as a K–6 school, it will have approximately 1,000 students. Its capacity is 1,500 students, which I’m sure it will rapidly reach.
Q: Do you have any other items to share?
A: We are still grappling with the budget for next year. The district’s finance department is meeting with each school now to determine priorities and allocations. Also, student testing season is in progress and continues basically through the end of the school year. Our students have had a good academic year and we expect them to do well on the tests.
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