Q: Do you have an update on naming the two new schools?
A: Yes, we named the two new schools opening for the start of the 2024-25 school year at our board meeting in March. The school in Beacon Lakes, K-8 OO, has the new name of Lakeside Academy. The school in Shearwater, K-8 NN, has the new name of Trout Creek Academy. We selected these names from a list of suggested names that the school principals and community members had come up with and provided to us. 

Q: What is the next step?
A: The principals will continue working with community members to establish their school’s identity, to include school colors and mascots. SAC membership and PTOs are being formed and hiring is ongoing. Employees have transferred in from other schools to fill some vacancies. Both schools have also named their assistant principals, who have a start date of July 1. David Barns will be the assistant principal at Trout Creek Academy and Rebecca Whaley from PV/PV Rawlings will be the new assistant principal at Lakeside Academy. It’s a very exciting time.

Q: Do you have an update on the legislative session?
A: The 2024 legislative session just ended and we are pleased that two of the education deregulation bills that we were watching and in favor of were passed in the Senate and the House: SB 7002 and SB 7004. Sen. Hutson was instrumental in getting these bills passed and we are hopeful that they will receive the governor’s signature.

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Q: Can you comment on SAC surveys?
A: This is the time of year that SAC surveys are going out and stakeholder feedback is being collected. Principals and administrative teams will use this information as they plan for the next school year and to guide their School Improvement Plans. 

Q: Do you have any kudos to share?
A: I have some heroes to recognize from our school district. First, Pine Island Academy bus driver Lisa Romanelli performed the Heimlich maneuver on a student on her bus. Her quick and decisive action helped save a choking student.

Second, Nease lacrosse coach Matt Gurowski was with his team on a bus driving down Interstate 95 when he saw a truck had just driven into a retention pond and was going underwater. He had his bus driver pull over and he jumped into the pond and helped to get the truck driver out of the cab.

We truly have some wonderful people who work in our school district.

Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 4?
A: As we move into the final quarter of the school year, I’d like to encourage parents to have a direct line to their school administrative teams. This is always the best way to gain accurate information and resolve any issues. 

Finally, I would like to encourage students to stay focused and maintain strong attendance through the remainder of the school year. 

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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