Local

New schools to address overcrowding in St. Johns County schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — More schools are coming to St. Johns County, as the school district tries to find solutions helping relieve its overcrowded schools.

Today, members of the school board met with the St. Johns County Board of Commissioners to lay out five new K-8 schools coming to the county by the start of the 2026-2027 school year.

Here’s when the school district says each school will open:

  • K-8 School “NN”: set to open by August 2024; located in the Shearwater neighborhood with a capacity of 1500 students.
  • K-8 School “OO”: set to open by August 2024; located in the Beacon Lake neighborhood with a capacity of 1500 students.
  • K-8 School “PP”: set to open by August 2025; located in the Rivertown neighborhood with a capacity of 1100 students. The school district says this will eventually convert to a middle school.
  • K-8 School “QQ”: set to open by August 2026; located in the Silverleaf neighborhood with a capacity of 1500 students.
  • K-8 School “RR”: set to open by August 2026; located in the Nocatee neighborhood with a capacity of 1500 students.

>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<

This comes as at least 10 of the county’s schools are over capacity. The construction of the schools is part of the school district’s plan to alleviate pressure on the overcrowded schools, but some parents, like Amy Anderson, are worried the new schools won’t solve the problem.

“We are owed a plan [to help these schools],” Anderson says, “We should have our kids taken care of.”

St. Johns County is one of fastest growing counties in Florida, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and the county says it doesn’t see the growth slowing anytime soon. Meaning, St. Johns County schools are only going to get more cramped.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

“We can’t keep up with [the growth],” says Patrick Canan, a county school board member representing District 5, “We have a lot of disgruntled parents, a lot of frustration.”

Another challenge for the county: where the money for these schools will come from.

It’s one of the biggest hurdles for both the county and the school district. The school board says there isn’t as much money available from the state to fund its new schools as there’s been in the past. The board says it’s now having to rely on local sources, like property and sales taxes, to cover the cost.

The school board tells me each of these schools will cost around $60 million, meaning the reduced resources for funding could slow the building of future schools.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“We are our own worst enemy, meaning there are going to be some stressors here,” says Tim Forson, superintendent of St. Johns County schools.

But while the county’s growth is fueling the need for schools, some parents say the teachers should be put first.

“It’s not about the number of buildings, it’s about having people to teach these students in a course,” Anderson says.

The school board says it’s not getting the number of people applying to its teaching positions like it used to. Apart from the growth, it’s the pay making potential teachers reluctant to come to the county.

The Florida Department of Education ranks average teacher pay in St. Johns 55th out of Florida’s 67 counties, with average salaries last year being around $48,928.

“We can’t pay them enough,” Canan says, “They’re screaming and the school board is saying ‘we agree with you, you deserve more money.’”

When asked about the possibility of building a new high school, amid all the K-8s being built, the school district said it hopes to have one ready by 2027. But there wasn’t an official plan introduced.

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.