Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Will Get School Site Report; but It's Unlikely to Be Final Word on Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Board Will Get School Site Report; but It's Unlikely to Be Final Word on Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon, Shorelines staff writer

The St. Johns County School Board will get an update on the search for a new Ponte Vedra Beach-area high school site Thursday night, but the contentious issue is far from settled.

School Superintendant Joseph Joyner will give the board a review and update of the school district staff's work on researching three sites east of the Intracoastal Waterway. Those sites include a 100-acre plot in the Guana River Wildlife Management Area, a 30-acre site behind the Talbot shopping center off Florida A1A and a 90-acre site at The Players Championship parking lot near A1A and Palm Valley Road.

"I'm going to share with the board Thursday," Joyner said. "I'm still waiting for some documents to come in. I'm going to be able to share all the information with the board."

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the School Board chambers, 40 Orange St. in St. Augustine.

Where the process goes after the presentation is up to the board, Joyner said.

"We're going to give them the information about what we found out until now," Joyner said.

He said he could "possibly" make a recommendation on a specific site. "I'm not sure on that yet. I'm going to give a status report," Joyner said.

School Board member Bill Fehling, who represents the Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley area, said there's still no need to rush to a decision since this is probably going to be the only shot at getting a high school east of the Intracoastal Waterway.

"For me, I would not use the word 'eager,' " Fehling said. "What I want to make sure is that we don't purposely rush the process. . . . Whether it happens this month, next month or June, I'm not as concerned about the time frame as much as I'm concerned about the accuracy of the information."

Joyner's update comes about a year after a site selection committee proposed 10 sites for the new school east of the Intracoastal Waterway to accommodate a growing population of high school students. Those students now have to travel about 13 miles west to Nease High School near U.S. 1 and County Road 210. The list was since narrowed to three.

If the northeast area of the county is to get its own high school in the Ponte Vedra Beach area, Fehling said officials must move cautiously, even though plans call for the school to be built in 2007.

"We as a School Board have not been given any updates as to where the district is in their evaluation of the three sites," Fehling said. "This will be our first exposure as to what they have been gathering."

The school site search has been controversial. Some area residents argue it's not necessary east of the Intracoastal because the developers of the planned Nocatee housing and commercial complex west of Ponte Vedra Beach will build a new high school there to accommodate a growing number of students. …

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