Discovery Oaks boundaries set

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 1/10/18

FLEMING ISLAND – Clay County’s newest elementary school has a new set of attendance boundaries after a Jan. 4 vote from the Clay County School Board.

The board voted 5-0 to advertise a 21-day …

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Discovery Oaks boundaries set


FLEMING ISLAND – Clay County’s newest elementary school has a new set of attendance boundaries after a Jan. 4 vote from the Clay County School Board.

The board voted 5-0 to advertise a 21-day notice of the board’s intent to adopt an Attendance Boundary Plan that district staff presented to the community in a meeting in December.

This plan shapes the attendance boundaries for Discovery Oaks Elementary, which is on track to open this coming August for the 2018-19 school year. The board also accepted a plan to add sixth grade to both Plantation Oaks and Oakleaf Village Elementary schools, which currently serve Pre-K to fifth grade. Oakleaf Junior High will also be re-aligned to offer only seventh to eighth grades, whereas, the school currently is grades sixth through eighth.

According to a presentation given at a previous meeting, the goal in the Oakleaf redistricting are to open Discovery Oaks Elementary with a sustainable student population and have no relocatable classrooms, reduce enrollment at Plantation Oaks Elementary and Oakleaf Junior and realign the grade structure.

The rezoning also aims to minimize disruption to all students and schools involved and the busing required, all while providing safe walking and biking routes to the new school which is in the Eagle Landing section of Oakleaf.

Two options were presented in the redistricting for the Oakleaf area. Option 1 sees the zoning expand westward, with option 2 expanding more south. Both options allow Discovery Oaks Elementary to relieve Plantation Oaks Elementary’s enrollment, have students already qualified for busing and keep neighborhoods together. Those are the only similarities between the two options.

Option one maintains boundary proximity to schools and allows Plantation Oaks Elementary and Discovery Oaks Elementary to experience equal growth, while also allowing a reduction in transportation requirements. All of this comes at a cost of walkers and bikers having to cross at Oakleaf Plantation Parkway, which would require a traffic signal and a crossing guard.

Option two eliminates the need for walkers and bikers to cross Oakleaf Plantation Parkway but came with a quite a few cons, according to the presentation. Option two sees the rezoning losing boundary proximity to schools, a potential overgrowth of Discovery Oaks Elementary as there will be three growing neighborhoods in this area, and no savings on transportation costs. This option also requires buses to take a left turn onto Oakleaf Plantation Parkway.

As far as attendance goes, option one has Discovery Oaks Elementary with a projected 826 students and Plantation Oaks Elementary with 802. Option two puts Discovery Oaks Elementary’s attendance at 805 and Plantation Oaks Elementary at 823 students.

Much discussion had been held in previous meetings, and even a community meeting held in December, according to Superintendent Addison Davis. However, the Jan. 4 meeting saw a board in agreement, leading to virtually no discussion before the 5-0 vote.

“Option one was the option for us because it protects neighborhoods and keeps them together,” Davis said. “Option two saw kids across the street from each other attending different schools.”

“It just didn’t make sense to us to have a school visible, within walking distance, but because of zoning, you can’t go there,” Davis said.

At the end of the meeting, District 3 board member, Betsy Condon, asked to revisit the school district’s participation in the controversial House Bill 7069 statewide lawsuit. She wants to remove her school board district from the lawsuit at the February meeting.

HB 7069 became effective July 1 last year after being passed in the 11th hour of the Florida Legislature. It requires districts to share local property tax money with charter schools. The lawsuit challenges the bill’s constitutionality.

Last September, the Clay County School Board became the 15th Florida school district to join the lawsuit following a 3-2 vote, with District 5 board member Ashley Gilhousen and Condon voting no.

Condon sees potential difficulties in securing funds for her district due to her district’s involvement in the lawsuit.

“I talked with Senator Rob Bradley, who is chair of appropriations, and typically, this person is able to find some money to fund some projects in their home areas that can be supported by other legislators,” Condon said. “The difficulty comes in where we are suing the legislature, so for him to be able to go to his colleagues and say, ‘I want to do this for my home county,’ we are only one of 13 counties suing the state legislature.”

District 2 board member Carol Studdard asked Condon if any promises were made to which Condon answered with a no.

In other business, the board passed the Controlled Open Enrollment Plan for 2018 with a 5-0 vote. This plan sets the capacity to be used by the district in determining which schools have available seats for students wishing to attend the school of their choice next school year.


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