Mostly Cloudy, 93°
Weather sponsored by:

OP Town Council haggles over merits of St. Johns Classical Academy campus

By Lee Wardlaw lee@claytodayonline.com
Posted 3/23/23

ORANGE PARK – After debating whether St. Johns Classical Academy would be an asset to the tax roles or another failed nonprofit, the Town Council voted 5-0 to rezone the property at 1324 Kingsley …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for subscribing.

Single day pass

You also have the option of purchasing 24 hours of access, for $1.00. Click here to purchase a single day pass.

OP Town Council haggles over merits of St. Johns Classical Academy campus


Posted

ORANGE PARK – After debating whether St. Johns Classical Academy would be an asset to the tax roles or another failed nonprofit, the Town Council voted 5-0 to rezone the property at 1324 Kingsley Ave. to advance the project.

The charter school already has a campus on Fleming Island. With a lengthy waiting list, the school decided to expand to the building that used to house Orange Park Performing Arts Academy.

The arts academy closed because it failed to pay rent and salaries.

The council heard a second reading of an ordinance to amend the comprehensive plan for the site at the property and rezone the parcel from a Planned Unit Development to a Professional Commercial Office. Both measures passed unanimously, 5-0.

Vice Mayor Alan Watt said while he voted for the first bill, he wanted it on the record that he opposed the measure.

“I am categorically opposed to this. I do not think it is a need for the town. It is very bad, financially, for the town. We finally had this property positioned to become a useful, tax-paying facility, and now we’re back to having another nonprofit, which will not contribute anything financially,” he said.

Councilman Josh Hauber said he thinks the new school will be good for students living in Clay County because they can enter a lottery system and grow their knowledge and experience.

However, the school’s status as a nonprofit creates positives and negatives, Hauber said.

“It’s a nonprofit, so it’s a dual-edged sword here that we’re combating with,” he said.

Mayor Randy Anderson said the forthcoming of St. Johns Classical Academy as an overwhelming positive.

“Yes, I understand they’re a nonprofit, and nonprofits don’t pay taxes, But this is a very good school. I think this is a plus for our community to bring that school here, and with that school comes young families, so I think it’s a big plus for us,” he said.

But not if it doesn’t serve town students and considers low-income students.

“The only concern I have is the kids in the town limits of Orange Park. Financially, are they going to be able to attend, or will they be overlooked? That’s my biggest concern because if they’re going to be overlooked, I’d rather not have the school. The school is to be for everybody. But overall, I think the school is needed,” Anderson said.

Councilwoman Susana Thompson said that a lottery system guarantees low-income families a spot during enrollment.