By Martie Thompson
Amidst a bustle of minivans, yellow buses, bike riders and walkers, schools opened for the first day of the 2016 – 2017 school year in St. Johns County on Wednesday, Aug. 10. District 4 School Board member Kelly Barrera checked in with the principals of all schools in her district.
“Everything went very well on the first day, very smoothly,” Barrera said. “I’m so pleased.”
Barrera pointed out that District 4 has two schools with new principals. Catherine Van Housen of PV/PV Rawlings reported that everything went “swimmingly” on her first day and Ryan Player of Landrum Middle School also reported a good first day, despite a faulty smoke detector that resulted in a fire alarm going off and the school being evacuated.
First day student counts show that the county remains one of the fastest growing school districts in the state.
The total student count on opening day was 34,906, an increase of 1,850 students or 5.3 percent more than last year’s first day number of 33,056.
The high school student count was 11,016 with 2,259 students at Bartram Trail High School, 1,958 at Creekside High School, 1,307 at Pedro Menendez High School, 2,193 at Allen D. Nease High School, 1,663 at Ponte Vedra High School and 1,636 at St. Augustine High School. There were also 270 students in attendance at St. Johns Technical High School.
Middle school attendance totaled 7,101, with student headcounts ranging from 660 at Sebastian Middle School to 1,334 at Pacetti Bay Middle School. The other first day figures were Alice B. Landrum Middle School with 1,134, Fruit Cove Middle School with 1,165, R. J. Murray Middle School with 700, Gamble Rogers Middle School with 857 and Switzerland Point Middle School with 1,251.
The district’s K-8 schools totaled 4,180. Liberty Pines Academy had a first day headcount of 1,372, Patriot Oaks Academy with 1,362 and Valley Ridge Academy with 1,446.
The elementary school population totaled 12,008; however, this count includes approximately 33 percent of the kindergarten population since schools stagger the kindergarten start date over a three-day period. Another 331 students are enrolled at the district’s alternative, charter and Department of Juvenile Justice schools.
“Today was a wonderful start to the school year and I am very pleased with the planning and preparation that was evident as principals, teachers and support staff welcomed the students,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “I witnessed our students reconnecting with friends and ready to begin their learning. The custodial and maintenance staffs have worked hard to ensure that our schools presented well and will function even better. The food service team was very organized and ready to meet the needs of our growing district.”
Joyner also recognized the district’s transportation department, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the county’s crossing guards for doing their part to ensure students traveled to and from schools safely.
Photo by Lynn Damm
School buses are on the road again in St. Johns County