Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Pass Their Inspection; Restrooms among Suggested Upgrades

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Pass Their Inspection; Restrooms among Suggested Upgrades

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Keystone Heights Elementary School needs additional restrooms, and Doctors Inlet Elementary needs more parking and a safer student pickup area.

And they need them now.

Those were the most pressing of the laundry list of recommendations made to the Clay County school district by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, accreditation teams. Earlier this year, the teams made on-site visits to Clay County's 20 public elementary schools as part of the association's reaccreditation process.

The teams, made up of school administrators from other Florida counties, gave the schools largely positive reviews and will recommend they be reaccredited for another five years, said Mary Bethea, the district's director of elementary education.

Teachers and administrators are "glad it's over [because] there was so much anticipation, but the results were wonderful," she said.

But along with the commendations -- for academic achievement, communication and supportive parents and business partners, among other things -- the teams had suggestions for improvement. The needs range from new or upgraded restrooms and playground equipment at some schools, to fencing and sidewalks at others, and covered physical education areas at still others.

The teams also recommended academic additions, such as art or music teachers or technology specialists where there are none.

Members of the Clay County School Board, who received the report Thursday, were pleased with the positive parts of the report and not surprised by the negative parts. They pledged to take action to fix problems raised in the SACS report, although cost estimates were not yet available.

"It can't help but make you proud of the school system, but we do have some things to take care of," said board member Carol Studdard.

"We're going to be looking at capital plans and maintenance," said board member Carol Vallencourt. "We really need to make that a priority."

The strongest recommendations in the SACS report -- the ones that used the most bold print -- were for additional restrooms and upgraded plumbing at Keystone Heights Elementary. …

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