Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Build New High School, Owens Says `It Will Accommodate Growth in All Schools'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Build New High School, Owens Says `It Will Accommodate Growth in All Schools'

Article excerpt

Saying that it'll help cushion growing pains, Clay County School

Superintendent David Owens is urging the district to shift

direction and build a new high school instead of a junior high

for a price tag of $25 million.

The superintendent said it makes more sense to construct a high

school.

"It will enable us to accommodate growth in all the schools.

That's my recommendation," Owens said about the proposed high

school, which carries a price tag considerably higher than the

contemplated $17 million junior high. "I hope they [board

members] agree with this."

The School Board is expected to review Owens' plan to handle

the district's future growth at a special meeting Monday.

Previously, the district has been studying whether to build a

junior high school in the Lake Asbury area to relieve

overcrowding in the district's seventh, eight and ninth grades.

The new high school proposal would also involve adding a ninth

grade to three existing high schools, Clay, Orange Park and

Middleburg, as well as the new one, leaving more room at the

junior high schools.

The district currently has 26,000 students who attend 28

schools. Planners are readying for an almost 4 percent rise in

students, bringing next year's tally to 27,300.

The school system is still trying to locate 50 to 65 acres for

the proposed high school, which will provide the community five

senior highs.

Planners are still trying to figure out both a site and how to

pay for it.

"I have no idea," Owens said about possible locations. "We're

desperately looking for sites now."

Deputy School Superintendent Ben Wortham said educators have

tentatively focused on two areas, Fleming Island on the east and

Branan Field-Chaffee Road on the west.

"They've got a real dilemma of where to go, the east or west

side," he said of sites. …

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