Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches Schools Swelling Because of Relocating Families

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches Schools Swelling Because of Relocating Families

Article excerpt

THE BEACHES -- In St. Johns County, School Superintendent Hugh

Balboni jokes he has more students than he knows what to do

with.

With a student growth rate of about 12 percent a year in Palm

Valley and Ponte Vedra Beach in northern St. Johns County and a

rise of nearly 6 percent in the county's southern portion,

education officials expect the school population to sustain

those rates until 2005.

Go north into the schools at the Beaches in Duval County, and

schools there are reporting increasing enrollment, though

not nearly at the rate in St. Johns. It's not a point that's

lost on Harry M. deMontmollin, president of the Bolles School in

Jacksonville, or other private and public school administrators

who are looking at the growth in the enrollment of their student

populations, as well as the overall increase in the numbers of

school-age children.

So much so that the 65-year-old Bolles, Duval County's oldest

private school, plans to open a satellite campus in Ponte Vedra

Beach for 200 students by September 1999. The school, with two

main campuses on San Jose Boulevard, has been drawing a steadily

increasing number of Beaches students, prompting Bolles

officials to look to an annex at the Beaches.

Bolles, with four campuses including one in St. Augustine,

reached capacity this year with a record enrollment of 1,582.

Schools already at the Beaches are experiencing growing pains

as well. The Discovery Montessori School, a small private

institution in Jacksonville Beach, has seen its student

population at its Sixth Avenue North location swell and opened a

second campus on 15th Avenue North and Shetter Avenue.

And the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine, which includes the

Beaches, reports similar growth at its schools. At the K-8 St.

Paul's Catholic School in Jacksonville Beach, the student

population has more than doubled from 243 in 1990 to 532 last

year, according to a diocesan spokeswoman. The school now has

multiple grades for each of its classes to accommodate the

growth.

But it's not just the private schools' student numbers that are

growing. Public schools in St. Johns County and the Beaches in

Duval County are also seeing increased enrollments.

"We've got more students than we can handle," St. Johns'

Balboni said.

The growth is prompting a five-year plan to build two high

schools, two middle schools and three elementary schools, he

said.

Jacksonville Beach Elementary, one of three primary schools in

that city, has 568 students in a building designed for 487. The

county board of education is replacing the current structure by

the 1999 school year with a new facility for 600 students.

Most of the growth is attributable to young families relocating

here for jobs, administrators from several schools said. …

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