Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park School Gets Reprieve

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park School Gets Reprieve

Article excerpt

After several months of turmoil at Orange Park and Montclair

elementary schools, parents and teachers are celebrating good

news delivered this week by Superintendent David Owens.

A decision to close Orange Park and move the county's only

magnet school program to Montclair in 2000 has been postponed

two years, Owens said at a meeting Tuesday with parents and

educators from both schools at Montclair Elementary.

After months of turmoil and controversy surrounding the issue,

particularly among parents who didn't want the schools to be

changed, the latest development brought cheers from parents and

teachers at both schools.

"There was a good spirit during the whole meeting," Owens said

Wednesday. He said the two schools can continue to operate as

they currently do through school year 2001-02, "barring any

unforeseen changes."

He said he'll recommend the postponement to the School Board,

which meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday to discuss school-facilities needs

and review the 1998-99 tentative budget.

The meeting Tuesday evening followed a School Board meeting

June 18 in which parents from Montclair and Orange Park

elementary schools voiced opposition to the proposed changes.

Parents from the Orange Park school on Plainfield Avenue didn't

want the school to be closed, and Montclair parents didn't want

their school to lose its traditional role as a neighborhood

institution.

Betsy Sherk, past president of Montclair's Parent Faculty

Association and a leading opponent of the earlier decision

affecting the two schools, said this week's announcement was

"really good news."

"I have to commend the superintendent for seeing that we needed

to do something here, and he did it," Sherk said.

She thinks a better relationship between school district

officials and parents may evolve from the months of controversy

concerning the two schools.

"I think that's one of the positive things that's come out of

this," Sherk said. "He [Owens] sincerely asked for our input. To

me, that was remarkable."

She said Owens told the group that, in the future, parents

won't be left out of the loop on important decisions affecting

schools. …

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