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August 2011

Driver’s Education

The St. Johns County Tax Collector, in cooperation with the St. Johns County School District, will offer free Driver Education classes to all eligible high school students during the 2011-2012 school year. The classes will be available at Bartram Trail, Creekside, Menendez, Ponte Vedra, Nease, St. Augustine and St. Johns Technical High Schools.
The curriculum is designed to prepare students for obtaining a Learner License, which allows restricted driving privileges for one year. The classroom instruction will cover driving laws, rules, road signs and safety.
These classes will be taught by trained instructors at the high school where the student is enrolled. Each class will be limited to 50 students, and enrollment will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Classes will meet every school day from 8-9 a.m. throughout each of the scheduled sessions. Bus transportation will not be provided.
“We are extremely grateful to Dennis Hollingsworth and the St. Johns County Tax Collector’s Office for providing this opportunity for our students,” said Superintendent Joseph Joyner.
Students can register by clicking on the Driver Education Classes link available at the Tax Collector’s website at Those wishing to attend must be at least 14 and half years old by the start of the first class. Students will be required to complete an online registration form with their name, address, date of birth, phone number, high school and requested class dates.
Bartram Trail/St. Augustine/St. Johns Technical September 12-27, November 4-22, January 23-February 7, March 19-April 12
Creekside/Nease September 29-October 14, November 28-December 13, February 9- 27, April 16-May 1
Menendez/Ponte Vedra October 17- November 2, January 3-20, March 1-16, May 15-31
For more information contact Driver Education Coordinator Tommy Bledsoe at (904)547-7565 or [email protected]

Liberty Pines Academy Power-Library

The St. Johns County School District recently received one of the state’s eight 2011 Florida Power-Library Schools (FPLS) awards. The school being recognized is Liberty Pines Academy (LPA).
This statewide recognition is awarded to schools that involve their school faculty members, parents and students in developing and implementing outstanding library media programs focused on student achievement.
Liberty Pines Academy, the district’s only K-8 school, joins the three other St. Johns County schools that received the FPLS award, Timberlin Creek Elementary School and Ponte Vedra High School in 2009, and Wards Creek Elementary School in 2010.  There are currently only 46 schools in the state which have been awarded this recognition after undergoing a rigorous review process.
Based on the FPLS reviewers’ evaluations, the winning schools’ library media programs received excellent scores in the following components: Instruction, Curriculum/Assessment, Resource Management, Program Administration, Environment and Advocacy.
The FPLS award is valid for a period of three years. During that time, the schools have agreed to mentor other schools from around the state in their quest to develop quality library media programs.
The FPLS award is sponsored by the Florida Association of Supervisors of Media (FASM) in collaboration with the Florida Association of Media in Education (FAME) and the Florida Department of Education. The Florida Power-Library Program is based on the Colorado Power Libraries Program that highlights schools with a collaborative approach to improving student achievement.
LPA will receive a banner, and Principal Randy Kelley and School Librarian Melanie Tahan will receive lapel pins in recognition of their success. LPA will be honored at the School Board meeting on September 13 at 6 p.m. The formal presentation of the FPLS award will be made at the Opening General Session of the FAME Conference on Thursday, October 6 in Orlando.

Opening Day Student Count

The student count for St. Johns County Public Schools on opening day, August 22, 2011, was 28,486, an increase of 908 students or 3.3 percent over last year’s first day number of 27,578. 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 enrollment was 9,212, with 1,624 students at Bartram Trail High School, 1,647 at Creekside High School, 1,288 at Pedro Menendez High School, 1,528 at Nease High School, 1,476 at Ponte Vedra High School and 1,649 at St. Augustine High School.
There were also 173 students in attendance at St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS). SJTHS is located on the campus of First Coast Technical College and offers students academic studies combined with career and vocational training.
Middle school enrollment totaled 6,616, with student headcounts ranging from 638 at Sebastian Middle School to 1,434 at Fruit Cove Middle School. The other first day figures were Landrum Middle School with 1,189, Murray Middle School with 636, Pacetti Bay Middle School with 933, Rogers Middle School with 833 and Switzerland Point Middle School with 953.
Liberty Pines Academy, the district’s only permanent K-8 school, had a first day headcount of 1,112.
The elementary school population totaled 11,201; 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 172 students are enrolled at the district’s alternative and charter schools.
“Amazing is how I would describe our first day,” reported Dr. Joseph Joyner, Superintendent of Schools.  “I was able to visit about half of our schools today and each one was in mid-year form. Our maintenance and custodial staff had our schools in immaculate condition.  I can’t thank our principals, teachers and support staff enough for their excellent preparation.”
“I also want to say a big thank you to our transportation department and to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office for making sure our children got to school and home safely. Finally, our parents are the best ever and we simply could not have had such a successful day without their cooperation and support,” he added.
Attendance counts will continue to be monitored during the next two weeks, when student enrollment traditionally increases, according to Tim Forson, Deputy Superintendent of Operations.  Additional information may be obtained by calling Mr. Forson at 547-7670.

Principal and Assistant Principal Achievement Awards

Don Campbell, Principal of Wards Creek Elementary School (WCES), has been selected as the St. Johns County School District’s nominee for the 2011 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership.
Judith Thayer, Assistant Principal at Liberty Pines Academy (LPA), was chosen as the district’s nominee for the Outstanding Assistant Principal Award.
These programs honor principals and assistant principals who have spearheaded initiatives and used teamwork and leadership skills to increase student performance and promote safe learning environments.
Awardees are also recognized for ethical leadership, their use of innovative technology, and their commitment to forging personal, social, economic, and cultural relationships in the classroom, the school and the community.
Mr. Campbell has seven years experience in the St. Johns County School District. Previously he was principal at Mill Creek Elementary School from 2004 until moving to his present position upon the 2007 opening of WCES.
WCES has been an “A” school from its inaugural year throughout Mr. Campbell’s tenure. In 2010 it received a Florida Power Library School award for recognition in developing and implementing outstanding library media programs focused on student achievement. WCES has received the Golden School Award each year for exemplary volunteer programs and is a designated Franklin Covey 7 Habits Leader in Me school for student leadership development.  
Mr. Campbell has 40 years of educational experience and more than 21 years experience as a principal and district administrator in Florida. Before moving to St. Johns County, he served as Assistant Superintendent of Operational Support Services for Lee County Public Schools.
“I have tremendous respect for the leadership ability of Don Campbell,” said Superintendent Joseph Joyner. “He has assembled an outstanding team at Wards Creek and the students are consistently high performing. Don also embraces the community and builds outstanding relationships with parents.”
Mr. Campbell holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University and a master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University.
Ms. Thayer has been employed in her present position at the district’s only K-8 school since its opening in 2008. While at LPA, she has developed a pre advanced-placement program for middle school students, the Readers are Leaders recognition program and created the eighth grade student intern program, which allows students to develop leadership skills in elementary classrooms.
This nominee has over 29 years in education with the last 15 in the St. Johns County School District. She began as a teacher at Landrum Middle School in 1996 and moved to the district office in 1998 as the Exceptional Student Program Coordinator for Gifted and Learning Disabled Students where she served until 2004. She was previously assistant principal at PVPV/Rawlings Elementary School.
“Judith Thayer is widely known in our district for her ability as an instructional leader.  Her talent in working with teachers should serve as a model for all assistant principals,” said the Superintendent.
Ms. Thayer holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.
These two St. Johns County nominations will be forwarded to the state where they will compete at the regional level. The statewide winner in each category will be announced this fall.


Town Hall Meetings Scheduled

Two Town Hall meetings are scheduled to discuss potential zoning changes for the new Elementary School “L” being constructed at 355 Palencia Village Drive, which is slated to open for the 2012-2013 school year.  Other high-growth areas may also be addressed.
The meetings will take place at Nease High School, located at 10550 Ray Road, on Tuesday, August 30 at 6:30 p.m. and at Creekside High School, located at 100 Knights Lane, on Thursday, September 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Proposed zoning plans will be released at the Town Hall meetings, along with an opportunity for the public to provide comment.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Joseph Joyner, School Board members and district staff will be in attendance.
“Parents and other interested parties are encouraged to attend the Town Hall meetings so that they may hear the various proposals firsthand and express their opinions,” said Mr. Tim Forson, Deputy Superintendent for Operations.

New Coordinator of Governmental Relations Named

Beth Sweeny, Legislative Aide in the Florida Senate, has been named by Superintendent Joseph Joyner as the new Coordinator of Governmental Relations for the St. Johns County School District.  
Mrs. Sweeny was selected following weeks of in-depth interviews and research by the district. Her appointment will become effective later this month. The new Governmental Relations Coordinator position was created to align with the objectives of the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan. The Plan calls for the district to generate a coordinated effort in order to better influence policy and funding, which is critical to the success of all district initiatives.
“Beth is a perfect fit to accomplish the objectives of our Strategic Plan in the area of governmental relations,” said Dr. Joyner. “She has a strong background and the needed connections to influence public policy for the benefit of the children in St. Johns County.”
The new Coordinator has over five years of legislative experience in Florida. In her present position, Mrs. Sweeny is responsible for serving as liaison, coordinator and spokesperson with media, citizens, community groups and several government agencies.
Other areas of responsibility include presenting bills for passage before Senate Committees, conducting detailed research and analysis on a wide variety of topics with a focus on policy items, as well as coordinating programs, projects and special events.  
“The St. Johns County School District has a rich and long history of bringing innovation and high quality education to the students it serves,” said Mrs. Sweeny.  “I look forward to working with Superintendent Joyner, the School Board, administrators, teachers, parents and community members to foster and create vital new relationships with local, state and federal government officials.”
Mrs. Sweeny received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Flagler College.


Free and Reduced Lunch

The St. Johns County School District announced its policy today for free and reduced price meals for children unable to pay the full price of meals served under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and Child Care Food Program. Interested persons may review a copy of the policy by contacting Elizabeth Binninger, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, 10 Hildreth Drive, St. Augustine, FL 32084 or (904) 547-3961 or toll free 1-(866) 984-7084.
Household size and income criteria will be used to determine eligibility.  Children from families whose income is at or below the federal income eligibility guidelines are eligible for free or reduced price meals. Once approved, meal benefits are valid for an entire year. To apply for free or reduced price meals, households must complete the application and return it to the school or District Food and Nutrition Services Office.  
For the purpose of determining household size, deployed service members are considered a part of the household. Families should include the names of the deployed service members on their application. Report only that portion of the deployed service member’s income made available to them or on their behalf to the family. Additionally, a housing allowance that is part of the Military Housing Privatization Initiative is not to be included as income.
Application forms are being sent home with a letter to parents or guardians. Forms are also available at the front office in each school or can be found on the Food and Nutrition Service’s website at  The information provided on the application will be used for the purpose of determining eligibility and may be verified at any time during the school year.
Households that receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are required to list on the application only the child’s name, SNAP/TANF case number, and signature of adult household member.  
Foster children will receive free benefits regardless of the child’s personal income or the income of the household.
Households with children who are considered migrants, homeless, or runaway should contact Homeless Liaison Coordinator Chamane Williams (904) 547-7587.
All other households must provide the following information listed on the application:

  • The total household income must be listed by amount and frequency (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) received by each household member to include all children whether in a school or not and the type of income (such as wages, child support, etc.);
  • Names of all household members, check the “no income” box if applicable. If household member is a child, list name of school for each;
  • The last four digits of the Social Security number of the adult signing the application or the word “NONE” for this household member if he or she does not have a Social Security number; and
  • Signature of an adult household member certifying the information provided is correct.

Applications may be submitted at any time during the year.
If a household member becomes unemployed or if the household size changes, the Food and Nutrition Services Department should be contacted at (904) 547-3960 or toll free (866) 984-7084. Such changes may make the children of the household eligible for reduced price meals or for additional benefits such as free meals.
Under the provisions of the free and reduced price meal policy, St. Johns County School District officials will review applications and determine eligibility.  If a parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the ruling of the official, he/she may wish to discuss the decision with the determining official on an informal basis.  
If the parent wishes to make a formal appeal, he/she may make a request either orally or in writing to the Director of Student Services, 47 Orange Street, St Augustine, FL 32084; (904) 547-7536.
Unless indicated otherwise on the application, the information on the free and reduced price meal application may be used by the school system in determining eligibility for other educational programs.
To determine annual income:

  • If you receive the income every week, multiply the total gross income by 52.
  • If you receive the income every two weeks, multiply the total gross income by 26.
  • If you receive the income twice a month, multiply the total gross income by 24.
  • If you receive the income monthly, multiply the total gross income by 12.

The total income before taxes, social security, health benefits, union dues, or other deductions must be reported.

HouseholdSize Annual Monthly Twice Per Month Every Two Weeks Weekly
1 14,157 1,180 590 545 273
2 19,123 1,594 797 736 368
3 24,089 2,008 1,004 927 464
4 29,055 2,422 1,211 1,118 559
5 34,021 2,836 1,418 1,309 655
6 38,987 3,249 1,625 1,500 750
7 43,953 3,663 1,832 1,691 846
8 48,919 4,077 2,039 1,882 941
For each additional family member, add 4,966 414 207 191 96
HouseholdSize Annual Monthly Twice Per Month Every Two Weeks Weekly
1 20,147 1,679 840 775 388
2 27,214 2,268 1,134 1,047 524
3 34,281 2,857 1,429 1,319 660
4 41,348 3,446 1,723 1,591 796
5 48,415 4,035 2,018 1,863 932
6 55,482 4,624 2,312 2,134 1,067
7 62,549 5,213 2,607 2,406 1,203
8 69,616 5,802 2,901 2,678 1,339
For each additional family member, add 7,067 589 295 272 136

In accordance with Federal Law, and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination write USDA, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call toll free (866) 632-9992 (Voice).  Individuals who are hearing impaired or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339; or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Bus Route Postcards

Parents of all potential school bus riders should be receiving light blue postcards in the mail this week notifying them of their child’s bus number, bus stop and morning and afternoon pick-up times.
Four new bus routes are being added for this school year to accommodate growth in the Durbin Creek Elementary, PVPV/Rawlings Elementary and Fruit Cove Middle School areas, as well as an increase in the number of special needs students.  
The routes are available online at Persons 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 again prior to the start of school in an attempt to improve communications with parents,” said Joe Purvis, Director of Transportation.
There will be 166 school buses transporting approximately 18,200 children twice a day when school starts on Monday, August 22.