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August 2012

College and Career Night

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) will hold its annual College and Career Night on Wednesday, September 5 from 6-8 p.m. in the gymnasium at St. Augustine High School.

College and Career Night provides an excellent opportunity for all St. Johns County high school students and their parents to receive information on post-secondary educational opportunities. Representatives from over 60 colleges, universities, community colleges, armed services, and trade schools will be participating.

“This event is a convenient way for our students to gain exposure to several post-secondary opportunities without the expense of travel,” said Denise Faulk, director of Guidance and Choice and the event’s coordinator. “Information about the college admissions process, program offerings as well as scholarship and financial aid information will also be available.”

While College and Career Night has traditionally been targeted to seniors; juniors and underclassmen are strongly encouraged to attend. Many colleges have very selective admissions criteria and students are encouraged to start planning early.

For more information contact your school’s guidance department or call Susan Gould, Department of Guidance and Choice at (904) 547-7166.

Principal and Assistant Principal Achievement Awards

Steve McCormick, principal of Fruit Cove Middle School (FCMS), has been selected as the St. Johns County School District’s (SJCSD) nominee for the 2012 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Jewel Johnson, assistant principal at Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), was chosen as the district’s nominee for the Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award.

These programs honor principals and assistant principals who utilize teamwork and leadership skills to increase student performance, establish partnerships with parents and community members, and promote safe learning environments.

Awardees are also recognized for ethical leadership and their use of innovative technology, as well as their commitment to forging personal, social, economic, and cultural relationships in the classroom, the school and the community to build and support a learning organization focused on student success.

McCormick has been employed with the St. Johns County School District since 1995 and is entering his sixth year as principal of FCMS. He worked as dean of students at Bartram Trail and Nease high schools and served as assistant principal at Alice B. Landrum Middle School and Bartram Trail High School before assuming his current role in 2007.

FCMS has been an “A” school every year throughout McCormick’s tenure. In 2011 it received recognition as the fifth-highest ranked middle school in the state of Florida. FCMS has received the Golden School Award each year since 2007 for exemplary volunteer programs, as well as the Five Star School designation for community involvement.

School initiatives under McCormick’s leadership include the development of a Professional Learning Community, a bullying prevention program and the middle school transition program. He has also increased student participation in the district science fair; involvement with Capturing Kids Hearts, a teen leadership class; and supports the district’s Character Counts! initiative.

“Steve is very deserving of this honor,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “His work at Fruit Cove Middle has been stellar and he serves as a fine example of outstanding leadership. We are very fortunate in St. Johns County to have high performing principals and no one exemplifies that more than Steve McCormick.”

McCormick holds a bachelor’s degree from The State University of New York at Cortland, a master’s degree from Indiana State University and a certificate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Florida.

Outstanding Assistant Principal Nominee Jewel Johnson has been employed in her present position at PVHS since the fall of 2008. While at PVHS, Johnson has been instrumental in developing a new teacher orientation for the school. She is also an ambassador and liaison among parents, students, school administration and the community. She holds certificates in Florida Professional Certification English (6-12) and Educational Leadership, Florida Online Reading Professional Development, Clinical Educator Training, Florida Performance Measurement System, Gallup Urban Teacher Perceiver and Principal Perceiver, and Tregoe Decision Analysis.

Johnson has over 17 years of educational experience in Duval and St. Johns counties serving as a classroom teacher, administrator, and registrar. She began as a teacher at Stanton College Preparatory School for Duval County Public Schools and went on to serve as assistant principal at Fort Caroline Middle School, William M. Raines and Robert E. Lee senior high schools, as well as various positions at Florida State College at Jacksonville prior to joining the SJCSD.

“Jewell is one of the most energetic and positive assistant principals I have ever worked with,” said Joyner. “She faces any challenge with a high degree of professionalism and competence. The demands on our assistant principals seem to increase every year, but Jewell Johnson consistently provides an example of superior leadership.”

Johnson holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of North Florida.

These two St. Johns County nominations will be forwarded to the state where the nominees will compete at the regional level. The statewide winner in each category will be announced this fall.

Opening Day

The student count for the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) on opening day, August 20, 2012, was 29,273, an increase of 787 students or 2.8 percent over last year’s first day number of 28,486. During the past five years when many districts have seen sustained or declining enrollment, St. Johns County has continued to be one of the fastest growing counties in the state.

High school student count was 9,257, with 1,608 students at Bartram Trail High School, 1,731 at Creekside High School, 1,289 at Pedro Menendez High School, 1,602 at Nease High School, 1,450 at Ponte Vedra High School and 1,577 at St. Augustine High School.

There were also 142 students in attendance at St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS). SJTHS is located on the campus of First Coast Technical College and offers academic studies combined with career and vocational training.

Middle school attendance totaled 6,865, with student headcounts ranging from 620 at Sebastian Middle School to 1365 at Fruit Cove Middle School. The other first day figures were Landrum Middle School with 1,235, Murray Middle School with 709, Pacetti Bay Middle School with 986, Gamble Rogers Middle School with 813 and Switzerland Point Middle School with 1,137.

Liberty Pines Academy, the district’s only permanent K-8 school, had a first day headcount of 1,191.

The elementary school population totaled 11,559; however, this count includes less than 25 percent of the kindergarten population since schools stagger the kindergarten start date over a five-day period. Another 259 students are enrolled at the district’s alternative and charter schools.

“Today was a wonderful first day of school throughout the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner. “The outstanding planning and preparation by principals, teachers and support staff was evident in the schools I visited, and instruction was already taking place in the classrooms. Our maintenance and custodial staffs had the schools in immaculate condition and our food service team was very well prepared. I am extremely grateful for the efforts of everyone to make today special and welcome our students into this year’s learning environment.”

“I am also very appreciative of our transportation department and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office for making sure our children got to school and home safely,” he added. Today’s weather presented an additional challenge, but once again our staff stepped up to the plate to ensure that everyone was safe. Finally, our parents are the very best and much of our success today is attributed to their cooperation and support.”

SJCSD staff will continue to monitor attendance numbers, balance classrooms and refine bus routes throughout the week.

Tentative Agreements Reached With Unions

Negotiators for the St. Johns Education Association (SJEA) and the St. Johns County School Board have reached a tentative agreement on their 2012-2014 contract for the district’s teachers. Negotiators for the St. Johns Educational Support Professionals Association (SJESPA) and the St. Johns County School Board also reached a tentative agreement on the 2012-2014 contract for the district’s non-instructional employees.

Highlights of both contracts:

  • In January 2013 all professional employees will move one step and those employees at Step L will receive a supplement of $700.
  • In July 2013 all professional employees will move one step and those employees at Step L will receive a supplement of $900.
  • Retain the supplement for middle school teachers opting for up to 36 hours of additional planning time and the supplement for high school teachers who teach a seventh period class.
  • Change in language for Reduction of Personnel and Teacher Assessment to reflect new statutory requirements.

“Having a tentative contractual agreement that sets compensation for the next two years is beneficial for both the employees and the district,” said Tim Forson, deputy superintendent of Operations and chief negotiator for the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). “We were able to work cooperatively to settle the contract which is a testament to the leadership among the SJEA and the SJESPA as well as the School Board and the Superintendent.”

“Settling the contract is always a challenging endeavor, but it was made easier because of the working relationship that exists between the SJCSD and SJEA,” said Mary Ann Collins, chief negotiator, SJEA. “While we did not agree on all the issues the bargaining team is pleased with the final outcome. The major concern was salary and our teachers will start moving along the scale beginning with a step increase in January 2013. We will never compromise the quality of instruction and we want our students to continue to have the best education and achieve all their goals as we remain the number one school district.”

“It continues to be a difficult financial period and the understanding of the fiscal situation by all those involved in bargaining was critical to reaching an agreement,” Forson added.

“SJEA is pleased that we could come to a tentative agreement with the SJCSD as the 2012-2013 school year begins, said Dawn Chapman, president, SJEA. “The cutbacks in education funding, less revenue from local tax dollars and the continuous growth of the St. Johns school system all impacted this year’s negotiations. After much deliberation through the negotiation process both sides reached consensus and teachers will vote on the proposed settlement. The high performing teachers in St. Johns County will never be rewarded for all of their dedication to students unless the Legislature starts making public education a priority by funding mandates and passing legislation that supports teachers and students.” “This was a collaborative effort between administration and the union,” said Cathy Weber, director for human resources, SJCSD. “The negotiation process worked as intended with regular discussions back and forth for a couple of months. Both parties made compromises for the good of the district and its employees while keeping fiscal responsibility in the forefront.”

During the past few years the SJCSD has moved its average salary for teachers from the bottom quartile in the state to the top quartile.

Following ratification, the Tentative Agreements will be presented to the School Board for acceptance.

SJEA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 2,000 instructional personnel in the school district including teachers, media specialists, guidance counselors, deans and psychologists.

SJESPA is the recognized bargaining agent for the approximately 1,500 non-instructional personnel including teacher aides, clerical staff, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance and food service.

Parent Home Access Center

The St. Johns County School District (SJCSD) is offering parents a new tool this year to monitor their child’s academic progress. The Home Access Center (HAC) is a web-based application that is part of the Student Information system, eSchoolPlus. The HAC portal is now available to registered parents and/or guardians.

The HAC portal provides parents and students with a daily summary page of student information including schedule and attendance, discipline information, class work, test scores, grades and course requests. It also allows students to view their own records in the system to help keep them informed and actively participating in their progress.

“The HAC portal enables parents the ability to receive timely information to support and monitor their children’s academic progress,” said Bruce Patrou, chief information and technology officer, SJCSD. “This portal serves as an excellent additional tool to communicate information, but should not be considered the only form of interaction with the school.”

All schools in grades 3-12 will be participating in HAC starting this year (exceptions may apply to charter and DJJ schools). In addition, Liberty Pines Academy, Crookshank Elementary and Hickory Creek Elementary will be piloting HAC for parents with children starting kindergarten.

Parents who had access to Parent Assistant in the past will be able to use the same Login and Password information to access the HAC portal. The previous parent tool, Parent Assistant, is no longer available. Parents who do not have access to a HAC account must first visit their child’s school to complete an email verification form and show a positive form of identification. For many schools and parents, this can be accomplished during the upcoming Open House at their child’s school. Once parents have completed the email verification form at their school, they can register for a HAC account online.

For additional information on the HAC portal access the district’s website at, under the section labeled, “For Parents and Students.”

Palencia Elementary School Open House and Ribbon Cutting

As the newest school to open in the St. Johns County School District, Palencia Elementary will welcome the public and commemorate its opening for the 2012/2013 school year.

On Thursday, August 16, an Open House will take place from 4-7 p.m. Tours will be provided to educate the public on its state-of-the-art technology and the various ways the school property is designed to reduce, reuse and recycle waste and materials.

On Saturday, August 18 at 10 a.m. a ribbon cutting will take place followed by the opportunity to meet teachers and visit classrooms. The activities continue until 2 p.m. and will highlight after-school vendors, information on bicycle safety and eco-friendly cars.

Palencia Elementary is built with the capacity to house 738 students and is located at 355 Palencia Village Drive (just east of U.S. 1 in the Palencia community). It contains approximately 100,000 square feet and 44 classrooms.

This school was constructed as part of the district’s Five-Year Building Plan and funded through a $16 million Qualified School Construction Bond. This is the first “green” school in St. Johns County attempting to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification.

For more information on Palencia Elementary School, visit

Bus Route Postcards

Parents of all potential school bus riders should be receiving green postcards in the mail this week notifying them of their child’s bus number, bus stop and morning and afternoon pick-up times.

Five new bus routes are being added for this school year to accommodate growth in the Durbin Crossing and Nocatee areas as well as an increase in the number of special needs students.

The routes are available online at Parents without access to computers may visit any of the county public library locations, and staff will assist them in locating the website.

“Our intent is to provide the information prior to the start of school in an attempt to improve communications with parents,” said Joe Purvis, director of transportation.

There will be 162 school buses transporting approximately 19,200 children twice a day when school starts on Monday, August 20.

Districtwide Orientation

The St. Johns County School District is hosting a districtwide orientation on Friday, August 17 from 8 a.m. to noon. Orientation is an opportunity for students and parents to get supply lists, receive class schedules, and meet teachers.

While many schools have scheduled orientations on other dates and times, staff will be available at all schools on Friday, August 17 from 8 a.m. to noon.

The schedule of school orientations is below. Parents are encouraged to call or visit the school website to verify any changes in orientation and open house dates.

It is also recommended that parents register their children for school as soon as possible. Parents may access information regarding registration requirements and their child’s attendance zone by visiting the school district website at and clicking on the “For Parents and Students” link. Additional information on registration and school attendance zones may be obtained from the Student Services Office at 547-7598.

The purpose of early registration is to help reduce the number of students that need to be enrolled at the beginning of school and to help the district prepare for the appropriate number of teachers.

The first day of class for the 2012-2013 school year is Monday, August 20.