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Putnam County moves forward with new school construction and renovations thanks to $300 million bond referendum

Putnam County voters approved a $300 million bond referendum in November 2022 to revamp aging schools and build new elementary and high schools for Putnam County over the next decade.

Fifteen months later, two elementary schools are in the preconstruction phase, and one high school is set to undergo upgrades. One of the schools in preconstruction will be in Crescent City, and the other will be in Palatka.

A bond referendum is a voting process that gives residents the option to approve the school board’s request to raise property taxes to build new schools and improve existing ones. In this case, Putnam County voters authorized the property tax increase.

Putnam County Superintendent of Schools Rick Surrency said the 10-year plan is in phase one right now.

“Phase one will consist of constructing the first two elementary schools and upgrading Crescent City [Jr.-Sr.] High School,” Surrency said. “There will be a total of three phases that comprise what we call our revitalization plan.”

Upgrades to Crescent City Jr.-Sr. High School will take place over the next two years as construction progresses on the two new elementary schools.

Crescent City Jr.-Sr. High School will use state grant funding in the revitalization process, while the two new elementary schools will use part of the $300 million bond money.

Thomas Bolling, the district’s associate superintendent for support services, is working closely on the construction and renovation projects.

“The buildings at Crescent City [Jr.-Sr.] High School are very old,” Bolling said. “We will tear a building down and rebuild it little by little until the high school is brand new.”

Bolling said students attending the high school must be moved out of the building which will be torn down and reconstructed. Once the new building is completed, students will return to that building.

“Other schools in Putnam County have buildings that are over 40 years old,” Bolling said. “These buildings are very expensive to upkeep, so we will continue to revamp them.”

In the second phase of the 10-year plan, Melrose Elementary will be the next school to see these types of upgrades.

At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, Putnam County closed five schools. The bond referendum allows the possibility to rebuild new schools that will have better facilities, buildings and an overall better place for students to learn.

Surrency said the closing of the five schools was a necessary but difficult decision. The closed schools included Miller Middle School, E.H. Miller School, Jenkins Middle School, Price Middle School and CL Overturf 6th Grade Center.

“Putnam County consisted of 18 schools prior to the closing of the five schools,” Surrency said. “If you look at Flagler County, they had nearly 2,000 more students with just eight schools.”

The revitalization plan consists of three phases. Throughout the three phases, six new elementary schools will be built or renovated with the bond referendum money, and three new high schools will be built with money from the state of Florida. Taxpayers will pay back these bonds through the property tax increase over the next 30 years.

The new Palatka elementary school will be built on the site where E.H. Miller once stood. This new elementary school is currently named Palatka Elementary School A but that will likely change before opening.

The second elementary school is being built at 1282 Huntington Road in Crescent City, and the district will eventually decide on a name.

Evan is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing