Q: What can you tell us about the recent bids for the proposed construction of K-8 School NN [as of interview date of April 14]?
A: We opened the bids the first week of April. We had three successful bidders but, very unfortunately, the lowest bid was $56.2 million. This is an amount that we would spend to build a high school and just untenable for us to spend for this school. So, we rejected the bids and plan to reopen the bids soon for a later completion date: fall 2024. We think the short construction period, along with supply and labor shortages plus our requirement of liquidated damages if the school didn’t open on time (in fall 2023) contributed to these high bids.
Q: Are you making any changes to the bid proposal, besides an extra year for completion?
A: We will also be pre-selecting some finishing items that we usually allow the new school’s principal to select — things like flooring, colors, and paint. This way, as soon as the bid is awarded, the contractor will be able to order these items.
Also, it’s not finalized yet, but we are likely going to bid at least two schools and maybe three at the same time to hopefully have some cost savings. Only the NN school’s location has been identified at this time, but we will decide the other locations before the bid goes out.
Q: What will happen to the spot rezoning that had been approved for the Northwest to complement the addition of the new school?
A: We planned to do some rebalancing of student populations in addition to the rezoning for K-8 School NN at the same time. We will still do some rebalancing. We need to reevaluate since the new school won’t be opening in 2023 and new plans are being developed for discussion. We will need to advertise for the rezoning meetings on April 26 since that will be 30 days in advance of the meeting. We are hopeful to have the plans by then, but we will still take public comment until we actually vote at the school board meeting in late May.
Q: Do you have an update on the challenges by community members to some of the district’s library books?
A: We will have a public hearing on May 24 at our offices in St. Augustine (40 Orange Street) to consider challenges to seven library books by members of the community. They have thus far challenged at the school level, the district media services level, and to the Superintendent. Now these challenges come to the School Board for a final decision. Each book will be independently considered. These are books that are available for student checkout at some of the school libraries in the district.
Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 1?
A: We continue to request the early registration of new students to the St. Johns County School District, especially kindergarteners. This can be accomplished online at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/student/enrollment/ or by visiting the student’s assigned school website. We need to start hiring teachers for next year and want to make sure that we have proper staffing.
Q: How can our readers contact you?
A: They can email me at email@example.com or call me at (904) 547-7510.