On December 18, Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) closed on property for its newest high school, which will be located close to Baymeadows Road and 9A.
This will be Duval County's 20th high school, and the first since 1990, when both Mandarin and First Coast opened. Construction will begin this spring, and the school will open in the fall of 2010.
School boundaries have not been drawn, but the high school will alleviate overcrowding at Wolfson, Sandalwood, Englewood
and Mandarin high schools.
"The opening of this new high school will be a real asset to the community, and will be a welcome addition to the high schools in the area that are overcrowded, especially Mandarin and Sandalwood," said District 7 School Board Vice Chairman Tommy Hazouri.
Sandalwood is expected to experience the most relief, and Fletcher will be relieved slightly.
School Board member Nancy Broner, whose district includes Sandalwood and Fletcher, has been involved in the planning process for the new school since she was elected in November 2002. She and City Council Member Art Graham hosted several community meetings during the past five years to give the public an opportunity to be involved. During the meetings, members of the community discussed design and location of the new high school, as well as re-zoning issues.
"It has been gratifying to have the parent community so involved in the planning process," said Broner. "They have been very supportive, and are excited that the new high school will soon be opening."
Broner said the biggest challenge was finding enough property to house a high school in the fastest growing quadrant in Duval County - a quadrant where housing developments are constantly being built and the overall population is increasing.
According to Karen Kuhlmann, the director of real estate for DCPS, the district began looking for property for a new high school about nine years ago. There were only three owners of large tracts of land in the area where a new school was needed the most, and last year, the district was able to purchase 100 acres from the Davis family.
Additionally, 60 adjoining acres of wetlands were given to the district for mitigation. A large retention pond and a buffer of land will be located on the northern boundary of the school's property to minimize the impact to nearby residential areas. Celebration Church, which is also on the north of the school property, donated the right of way through their property to access the new school site. To improve traffic near the entrance, the district will be making R. G. Skinner Parkway a four-lane road.
The school will be officially named by a group of community stakeholders and area School Advisory Council and Parent Teacher Association members, and then submitted to the Duval County School Board for final approval.
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