Kerekes: New school on Fleming Island would relive overcrowding at Paterson Elementary

By Wesley LeBlanc Staff Writer
Posted 5/8/19

FLEMING ISLAND – A new kindergarten-through-8th grade school could be built on 43 acres of land on Fleming Island to prevent Patterson Elementary students from being rezoned to other schools, if …

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Kerekes: New school on Fleming Island would relive overcrowding at Paterson Elementary

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – A new kindergarten-through-8th grade school could be built on 43 acres of land on Fleming Island to prevent Patterson Elementary students from being rezoned to other schools, if one Clay County School Board member’s plans come to fruition.

“We have 43 acres in Fleming Island for a Junior High, but [we] had talked about creating a [kindergarten] through [eighth grade] there,” board member Janice Kerekes said. “We don’t have the capacity for a junior high, but we do have capacity to get permission to go forward, hopefully, to build a K-8 and we would alleviate a lot of portables in the district. We would solve this districting problem. It would alleviate overcrowding at all of these schools.”

Kerekes also said the school could recapture students going to St. John’s Classical Academy, a charter school, which would secure the school district additional full-time equivalent dollars, which are determined by student enrollment in public schools.

During the May 2 school board meeting, Kerekes said that she planned to prompt the school board during its June meeting to discuss how the district could potentially build a K-8 school before PES redistricting becomes an issue.

Superintendent Addison Davis held a meeting two weeks ago at PES to discuss future rezoning options for the school as it nears capacity. Most of the parents hoped there would be no rezoning. Kerekes, who represents the district that PES falls in, announced that she intends to bring an item to next month’s meeting that would see the PES dilemma solved.

The school would likely need to be ready for the 2020-21 school year because at the PES meeting held by Davis, he announced that no redistricting or rezoning would occur for the 2019-20 school year and that instead, this discussion would make a reappearance the following year. Davis said it doesn’t mean the PES redistricting would happen during the 2020-21 school year, only that 2020-21 is the earliest it could happen.

Davis also said no sixth grader would be rezoned, which means any student currently a fourth grader is safe from rezoning. ESE students or students in military families would be exempted from rezoning as well, although voluntary efforts are welcomed.

School board chairwoman Carol Studdard agreed with Kerekes, saying the board needs to consider a K-8 school, as well as a new elementary school near Green Cove Springs.

“I don’t believe in rushing into anything over night, but I do believe we need to look into this K-8 school and building an elementary school on [County Road] 315, which would certainly take care of Magnolia, Magnolia West and the other subdivisions that are going in along that other road,” Studdard said.

School board member Ashley Gilhousen reminded the board they have a workshop scheduled at the end of May to discuss the options, so more information surrounding the possibilities of new schools in Clay County may be expected then.

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