LIVE OAK, Fla. — School is just starting back, but it’s time for parents to already begin looking ahead to the next school year.
The online application process for the elementary school choice in Live Oak opened Monday and will remain open through midnight Jan. 31. Starting with the 2020-21 school year, Pre-K through fifth grade students in Suwannee schools will attend one of the reconfigured elementary schools around magnet-type themes: Suwannee Pineview Elementary (arts), Suwannee Riverside Elementary (innovation) or Suwannee Springcrest Elementary (leadership/careers). Currently, Suwannee Primary holds Pre-K through first grade with second and third graders attending Suwannee Elementary while Suwannee Intermediate houses fourth and fifth grades.
Janene Fitzpatrick, the Suwannee County School District’s assistant superintendent for instruction, said in the first 24 hours the process was open, nearly 300 applications were received.
“I had someone email me at 6 o’clock yesterday morning wanting to know what time it was going to open,” Fitzpatrick said, adding the process takes less than five minutes to complete and is mobile friendly. “I opened it just a few minutes before eight and the first survey was entered at 7:56…I’m glad they are responding to it.”
A letter was sent home with students on the last day before winter break that explained the application and also included an informational flyer on the reconfigured elementary school choices. Those individualized letters also included each child’s student ID number, which is required to complete the application.
“If they’re not already enrolled in our Pre-K, then they’ll be in the next wave,” Fitzpatrick said, adding Pre-K students not at Suwannee Primary School will still have their chance to make a choice after this first wave of applications. “They’ll still get to choose.”
Fitzpatrick said the Suwannee County School Board is expected to vote on the enrollment process, which includes determining how the process of granting the choices if shifting needs to happen, at its January meeting. However, she said the district expects to follow, for the most part, a first-come, first-served basis for granting those choices.
Superintendent Ted Roush has previously said students and parents will likely receive either their first or second choice and Fitzpatrick said from the surveys conducted earlier in the process as well as the applications already received, she anticipates that being accurate.
“We’re going to have to make sure we maintain balance with teachers and students,” she said, which includes demographics. “We’re worried about the ones that just don’t choose. If they don’t go in and do it, we’ll sit with principals and teachers and make a choice for kids and balance things out that way.”
One concern that Fitzpatrick can’t alleviate yet is which building will house which school. She said the district is waiting to select which facility will be which school based on the interest levels for which themes. The program with the most support will be placed in the largest of the three schools.
“That’s not yet been decided, they really just have to choose based on the programs,” she added. “If everyone and their brother chooses the technology school, we want to put that in the biggest building, so the most people can get what they want. That’s the only reason we haven’t decided which building is which yet, so we can see the response to the programs.
“They’re all going to have what they currently have. It’s only going to be better.”