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It took months — some say years — but the Flagler County School Board came up with a plan Tuesday to create districtwide K-8 (kindergarten- through eighth-grade) centers within the next five years.
The goal is to have all schools become K-8 centers by the 2017-2018 school year.
The goal of the rezoning is to increase student achievement through balancing enrollment. School officials have been saying for months that certain schools — such as Flagler Palm Coast High School — are over capacity, while other schools have hundreds of open seats.
Throughout the two-hour workshop, officials pinpointed timeframes and what the priorities are for creating K-8 centers. The School Board identified five of its top priorities: 1) Student acceleration; 2) Cost efficiency; 3) Relationships/small learning environments; 4) Capacity/feeder programs; and 5) Proximity.
In the short term, school officials will establish and implement new zoning maps by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
The new zones will then provide some relief at the schools over capacity. Also, the K-8 schools will be aligned with the county’s two high schools.
Then, within the next five years, all schools will become K-8 centers.
School Board member Colleen Conklin, who has expressed frustration over how long the process has taken, said during Tuesday’s workshop that when rezoning is completed, it will likely be one of the largest rezoning projects the school district has done.
“When we rip this Band-Aid off, it’s going to hurt,” she said. “But ultimately, if it’s going to be good for (the students), we have to figure out how best to do that.”
School Board member Andy Dance said it’s important for the economy to continue to improve because the rezoning and K-8 process will cost money. Dance said he would like to see property values continue to climb over the coming years as the plan gets rolled out in various phases.
According to Mike Judd, senior director of school operations, it would cost about $1.55 million in capital funding to create K-8 centers. That includes $500,000 for playgrounds at Indian Trails, $600,000 for four science labs at Belle Terre Elementary School and $450,000 for three science labs at Old Kings Elementary School.
Also, there will be a $605,000 annual price tag for transportation general expenses, according to Judd.
So, for about $2.1 million, districtwide K-8 centers could be created.
Officials said they plan to present the plan to the public over the coming year as the rezoning maps get finalized.