Q: Do you have any updates on the two new schools presently under construction, High School HHH and K-8 School MM?
A: Construction is moving along on schedule for both of these schools. Additionally, even though we will have to wait until next year, financially, to begin construction on High School III in the Twin Creeks area, planning is already in progress with the facilities department and the superintendent. This school, to be located in the central northern part of the county, will help additionally with overcrowding in our northern high schools.

Q: What can you tell us (as of the date of this interview, Aug. 19) about the start of school on Aug. 31?
A: We are super excited about school starting. Teachers have been attending training and I have spoken to all the principals in District 4. It is a happy time to be in the building and everyone can’t wait to see the students. While we know that things may change and we may have to pivot, it’s been great having people come together and focus their energy on the students. 

Q: What will school look like?
A: Many of the schools in District 4 will utilize the blended model, where some students attend a teacher’s class virtually and some attend in person. This of course presents unique challenges and my request of the community would be for understanding as teachers get the routine down. I know they are up to the challenge because we have the best teachers. I’m happy that we came up with a model that gives people — staff and parents — choices. Refinement may still be necessary as we strive for continued improvement.

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Q: Do you have any district news to share?
A: I’d like to congratulation Mike Degutis, our Chief Financial Officer, who has been promoted to Chief of Staff. This is a new position for our district, but common across other districts in the state. For now we will leave the two deputy superintendent positions left vacant by Cathy Mittelstadt and Brennan Asplen (who both accepted superintendent of schools positions in other school districts in the state) unfilled. We are at a time that we need the expertise of someone who is fully familiar with our strategic plan and growth. Mike has been a part of our team since 2011 and has this experience.

Q: How can our readers contact you?

A: They can email me at kelly.barrera@stjohns.k12.fl.us or call me at (904) 547-7510.

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