Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Debate Site for New St. Johns School

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Residents Debate Site for New St. Johns School

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

The debate over finding the right site for a high school in Northeast St. Johns County is simmering as school officials put together a citizens search committee.

Some residents urged School Superintendent Hugh Balboni to place the school in Ponte Vedra Beach on Monday during a Ponte Vedra Beaches Coalition meeting at which Balboni gave an update on the future school.

The task could be difficult, since roughly 75 acres are needed to build the school. There are few tracts of that size available in Ponte Vedra Beach and what exists could be expensive.

One of the possibilities raised in Monday's meeting involves land the Tournament Players Club owns and may be willing to sell, but that land was said to cost at least $500,000 an acre.

St. Johns County needs to build another high school in the northeast area to accommodate about 1,500 students. The need comes as Nocatee, a planned 15,000-acre community that would straddle County Road 210 west of the Intracoastal Waterway, is expected to add another 5,051 students to the area within 25 years.

Nocatee's developer, Parc Group, has offered to provide land for five elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school. They have suggested placing the high school on land west of Ponte Vedra Beach.

But county officials want the school on Nocatee's east side, closer to Ponte Vedra Beach.

The school system is forming a citizens selection committee to find the right site. The committee should be in place by next month and will spend several months looking at sites. School officials are also advertising for consulting engineers to help that search.

The committee will look at parcels identified by past selection committees and suggestions that have come up since then, such as assembling adjacent properties. …

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