Public hearing on school zones Monday

The current zones (above) versus the proposed zones, were the primary changes are in western Bradford and the city of Starke.


Telegraph Editor

STARKE — The Bradford County School Board’s public hearing on school rezoning will take place at 5:01 p.m. on Monday, March 13. 

John Gilreath with DRMP recently reviewed the considerations that influenced the proposed changes with the board.

Infrastructure and transportation, future development, and diversity and programming all played a part in the consultant’s review of the elementary schools. They also wanted to make sure the schools consistently reflected the county’s demographics. Decreasing the student population at Starke Elementary was another objective.

While Starke Elementary, Lawtey Elementary and the new Bradford Elementary will be pre-K through sixth grade schools, the school zones utilize the addresses of the current kindergarten through fifth grade students.

The accompanying maps show the current zones and proposed changes. The northern most zone is for Lawtey Elementary, with Starke Elementary below that, and Bradford Elementary will cover the southern zone. 

In terms of population, Starke’s projected enrollment would go from 578 to 562, Lawtey from 237 to 235 and Southside/Bradford from 661 to 679. The racial breakdown would be 59% white, 22% Black at Starke Elementary; 78% white, 15% Black at Lawtey; and 60% white, 24% Black at Bradford.

This does not include the pre-K or sixth grade enrollment. The numbers also reflect where students live, but not necessarily where they would go to school. Because of school choice, families, within certain parameters, can apply for their child(ren) to attend an out-of-zone school. Bradford also has students enrolled from Alachua, Clay and Union counties.

It will also be up to families whether their fifth-graders will remain at their current school or move to the school in their new zone for sixth grade. This could prevent two years of transition in a row since those rising sixth-graders will be transitioning to middle school in fall 2024.

Superintendent Will Hartley said families will soon be able to view their location within the proposed zones online.

Long meeting day Monday

Monday, March 13, will be a marathon for the superintendent, school board, and other participating staff. Beginning at 10 a.m. and running to 4 p.m., the board will be meeting in a “retreat” setting to learn about and discuss multiple topics. This will take place in the community meeting room at Capital City Bank in Starke.

At 4:30 p.m., the board will move to its meeting room at the district office for a workshop on school board policies and the proposed rezoning. The public hearings on those topics will take place at 5:01 p.m., followed by the regular monthly school board meeting. 

Finally, the school board and county commission will once again be workshopping redistricting maps with a goal of coming to a consensus. This is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

All of these meetings are open to the public.

A closer look at how the lines have shifted in the city of Starke. The lines separating Starke and Southside elementary schools went up the railway and Old Lawtey Road. They now go up U.S. 301 and out State Road 16.