Q: Can you shed any light on the changes to the recommended rezoning for new schools K-8 OO and K-8 NN?
A: As a result of public input, we took another look at the rezoning and new plans were developed. These plans have been advertised as required by law, 30 days prior to the November School Board meeting at which we will vote.
The biggest change was the rezoning of Silverleaf. The northernmost part of Silverleaf is now proposed to attend Liberty Pines Academy and another northern section is now proposed to attend K-8 NN. These students would be coming from Wards Creek and Pacetti Bay Middle School. Concurrent to this proposal, we announced two more new schools are planned to open in fall 2026 (these are in addition to the two new schools in 2024 and the one new school in 2025). One of these 2026 schools will be built in Silverleaf and ultimately the northernmost students will come back to their own school at that time. The second 2026 school will be built in Nocatee. Another result of this change will be that Palencia/Las Calinas/Kensington students will not be rezoned to Sebastian Middle School.
I hope that community members will now understand the value of talking to us, as these changes came about as a result of their concerns and suggestions.
Q: Do you have an update on this year’s teachers’ contract?
A: I am very pleased that at the October board meeting we approved the contract with our instructional staff. I’m very grateful to have this contract in place, which was ratified by 95 percent of St. Johns Education Association (SJEA) members and a 5 – 0 vote of the school board. I’m very pleased with the collaborative bargaining this year which has been a hallmark of our relationship with SJEA over the years. One highlight was that we were able to give some extra money to our more experienced teachers.
Q: Can you go over any highlights from the St. Johns Legislative Delegation priorities?
A: One big topic is PECO (Public Education Capital Outlay), a state funding program that requires that schools be at 150 percent capacity before a new school can be built. Sen. Travis Hutson assured me that he’s working on this, but as I pointed out to him, this is just one piece of the puzzle … the other piece is having funds available to build.
We also requested a return to the pre-recession ability of high growth school districts to levy up to 2 mills to help meet the demands of growth. Since approximately 2009, this was reduced to a maximum millage of 1.5 mills and has never gone back up. Speaker Paul Renner acknowledged this need of a high growth district and said he would look for a mechanism to help.
Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 1?
A: The St. Johns County School District was a partner with the recent Sing Out Loud Festival in St. Augustine. Our portion of the proceeds from this event was $70,000 and we’ve allocated these funds to new band instruments districtwide.
Q: How can our readers contact you?
A: They can email me at email@example.com or call me at (904) 547-7510.