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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jun. 2, 2020 1 month ago

Osceola is the best location for the new K-8 school

Volusia County School Board member Carl Persis outlines the reasons why he believes the new school should be built at the Osceola Elementary site.
by: Guest Writer

By: Carl Persis

Volusia County School Board member, District 4

Great news! For the first time, the Volusia County School Board voted to build from the ground up a K-8 school. The new K-8 facility will be built to replace Osceola and Ortona Elementary Schools, which opened in 1955 and 1951 respectively.

The board postponed making a decision on where the school should be built until the BRPH Architecture Firm received input from the community, teachers,
principals and district staff on the programs they would like to see offered at the K-8 facility.

When comparing the pros and cons of the two school sites, the Osceola site is by far the best location to build the new school, which will likely become very popular and serve 950-1000 students. Here are the reasons why.

1) Location

Students, who reside between Seabreeze Boulevard and the Flagler County line would be zoned for the K-8 school. The service area is approximately 11 miles long and currently contains two public and two private schools. The center point of the 11 mile zone is 1.3 miles north of Granada Boulevard. St. Brendan’s K-8 School is a half-mile north of the center point and Osceola Elementary is 1.5 miles south of center point. Ortona Elementary and Lourdes K-8 Academy are located about 4.5 and 5.0 miles respectively from the center of the school zone.

Clearly, the Osceola site is the most centrally located site and is about two miles south and 3.5 miles north of the private schools. With 71 percent of the students
residing in the Osceola zone this is another reason the new school should be build at this location and explains why the District’s transportation department would favor the Osceola site.

2) Less traffic and more parking

The parent drop-off area and staff parking would be adjacent to Seminole Avenue, which borders the Osceola property and connects Halifax Drive to AIA. The Ortona site does not have a roadway that runs east to west bordering the property. If the new school was built at the Ortona location, about 85% of the traffic would be arriving from the north on Halifax Avenue. Cars and buses would need to make a left turn on either Golf Boulevard or a bus parking lot area off of Halifax Avenue. This would result in the stacking of cars on Halifax Avenue, which is the second busiest roadway on the north peninsula.

The Osceola location would have a parent and a separate visitor parking location totaling 160 spaces and stacking for 55 cars while the Ortona site would not have a separate visitor parking area and have a total of 120 spaces and stacking for 40 cars.

3) Lot size is larger

The Osceola location would be a completely cleared site of 13 acres. The Ortona location is 11 acres and would be further reduced by the necessity of
maintaining the existing administration building constructed in 2006. This building would not be part of the new school and reduces the land available from 11 to 10.5 acres.

The additional 2.5 acres on the Osceola site will give the architects more flexibility in designing the school to accommodate the indoor and outdoor programing needs of a 21st century K8 school.

Also, the city of Ormond Beach has informed the school district that the city would absorb any costs associated with moving drainage lines to facilitate the design of the new school. City officials have also stated they would continue to work in partnership with the school district to offer community access to the outdoor recreational facilities located on the school site.

I envision this new K-8 school to have an elementary gifted program and a Cambridge Secondary 1 curriculum for middle school students. The
school would also prepare students for the academies offered at Seabreeze High School.

My belief is the board will objectively measure the merits of each site. Yes, the wonderful news is a new K-8 school is coming to the beachside, which will be serving students for 50 more years. Let’s make sure we build it in the best location.

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