On behalf of the School Board and district staff, I want to welcome all of you to the 2016-2017 school year. I hope everyone had the opportunity to relax and enjoy time with family and friends. A special welcome to families new to the district and to our more than 400 new staff members. We are fortunate to be one of the highest performing school districts in the nation and it is an honor to serve as your superintendent.
The SJCSD is working closely with the Department of Health and Anastasia Mosquito Control, Division of St. Johns County, under the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with regard to the Zika virus. Interim guidance has been developed by the CDC for district and school administrators in the planning of school-related activities, recommended actions, and appropriate policies for educating students and staff members for the continuation of school operations.
Mosquito control measures on school grounds will focus on identifying and removing sources of standing water that can serve as mosquito breeding sites. Common sources on school grounds such as buckets, trash cans, planters, playground equipment, and spaces beneath modular structures will be regularly monitored by onsite Maintenance Managers. Processes to ensure these do not become mosquito breeding areas will include regular cleaning, turning over, tightly covering, or completely removing (if appropriate) these sources. The district will follow the direction of Anastasia Mosquito Control should insecticide spraying be indicated.
In addition, we will temporarily modify the medication policy found in School Board Rule 5.15 to allow parents at the elementary level to bring insect repellent to the school with their child’s name written on the container for application by staff before going outside. We will continue our policy for middle and high school students in that they may self-carry and self-apply insect repellent with written permission from the parent. Parents and staff members will be notified of any changes in policy and information will be accessible through the district website at www.stjohns.k12.fl.us/health/zika/. This link also includes the CDC’s recommendations for parents talking to their children about Zika.
Our School Board has been focused on meeting the needs of our dramatic growth with the help of the half-cent sales tax including the construction of three new schools – one elementary and two K-8s. These schools will be in the fastest growing areas of the county. The elementary school will help to relieve overcrowding in the World Golf Village and the central county region and is scheduled to open for the 2017-2018 school year. The K-8 schools will relieve overcrowding for kindergarten through 8th grades at schools in northern St. Johns County – one in Nocatee and the other in Aberdeen. They are scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year. The schools will be funded through the voter approved half-cent sales surtax, school impact fees and proportionate share mitigation funds.
The half-cent sales tax also paid for 800 MHz radios for all of the county’s school buses. These radios will allow bus drivers to communicate directly with law enforcement in the event of an emergency and will enhance the safety of students on school buses. The radios were installed this summer on more than 230 school buses.
A large part of the success of St. Johns County Schools comes from the continued focus on the classroom. Every effort is made to provide teachers and schools with the resources they need for creating an environment that ensures all students are on the path to success. Through evaluation, training and support, we continue to develop high-quality personnel who focus on student growth and achievement.
Community and parent support, bright children and strong character-based leadership are major factors in our success. I am tremendously grateful for the high level of parent participation and support we receive as well as for the generosity of our business partners.
Best wishes for an outstanding school year!