Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fleming Parents Want Junior High; More Than 1,500 People Have Signed Petitions Asking for a New School within Six Years

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fleming Parents Want Junior High; More Than 1,500 People Have Signed Petitions Asking for a New School within Six Years

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

More than 1,500 people have signed petitions asking the Clay County school district to build a junior high school on Fleming Island within the next six years.

The group of residents behind the drive, Fleming Island Parents for Education, is gearing up for another push for signatures, said spokeswoman Carleen Marianek.

"It is taking a little longer than we anticipated," she said. "We are working on getting it fired up again."

Members have collected about 1,200 signatures in the community and a separate online petition had almost 400 signatures. They have a goal of 3,000 signatures.

"Most were very eager. Many did voice concerns as to whether this would do any good or not," she said. "All we can do is try."

The group plans to present the petition to the Clay County School Board, probably in January. Even if the board does not provide a written commitment, residents will know they made their voices heard, Marianek said.

Fleming Island has three elementary schools and a high school, with seventh- and eighth-graders bused 10 miles away to Green Cove Springs Junior High. But Fleming families want a "neighborhood" junior high of their own, close enough to allow students to participate in extracurricular activities and parents to be closely involved in their children's school, Marianek said.

Also, they said planned new communities near Green Cove Springs, such as Saratoga Springs, will impact that junior high school's enrollment numbers.

And new residents continue to flow into new Fleming Island subdivisions and neighborhoods.

But the school district has shifted focus to other rapidly growing communities, primarily OakLeaf and Lake Asbury. New schools are planned in those areas in the next five years, but a Fleming Island junior high is at least six years away.

Mike Elliott, the school district's assistant superintendent for support services, has said school building plans are are based on funding, population projections, growth trends and demographics. …

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