JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Jackson County School Board approved plans to combine Sneads Elementary with Grand Ridge Middle School.
Parents and teachers were vocal at Thursday night’s school board meeting, begging them to reconsider their decision to combine the two schools, which would make it a K-8 school.
“I don’t want a K-8 period, no matter where it’s built,” a 4th-grade teacher at Sneads Elementary said.
“Closing our schools would be detrimental to this culture that we pride ourselves in creating, yes, many of the same teachers would go to the K-8, but I’m afraid that the small community atmosphere that we have created is not attainable in such a large population,” a Sneads Elementary teacher said. “Bigger is not better and it is not about not wanting to go to Green Ridge.”
But Jackson County Superintendent Steve Benton said it is what’s best for the schools.
“I just feel like once they realize that the way to plan is that the elementary be on one side and the middle school on the other side of that is it’s gonna be the best thing,” Benton said. “That’s what’s best for the kids and the east part of the county.”
Benton said this would save the county around $18 million, while also giving students a new state-of-the-art school.
“I don’t think they quite understand the plans that the board has approved,” Benton said. “I mean Sneads Elementary is a great school and Grand Ridge it’s a great school but they both have old buildings. We’re constantly spending money on roofs and having to bring in mobile devices and everything so this will be a state-of-the-art building and the $52 million that the state has given us, we only pay back $9 million in three years and we’re paying that by the half-cent sales tax.”
He also said this will solve traffic issues in the area.
“This will solve all the traffic problems, we designed for this school to have 200 spaces called lounge spaces, having the busses coming in in the morning to the cafeteria,” Benton said. “It’s just a win-win for everybody.”
But some think combining the schools is the wrong decision.
“This will have a devastating impact on Sneads, the same as it would any other community,” a Sneads resident said.
Once they combine the two schools, there will be 950 kids on campus. The $52 million was given to the school district by the state.
Benton said they want to break ground this summer, and the project should take two years to complete.