On behalf of the St. Johns County School District, it is an honor to serve your children and families. Aligning with our mission and vision, I am steadfast in my resolve to put children first. Through the efforts of our students, teachers, administrators, support staff and parents we continue to be a high achieving school district and I am proud of our accomplishments. This year we graduated more than 3,000 students and exceled in extracurricular activities, sports and academics.

We continue to experience rapid growth in St. Johns County and are excited to open two new K-8 schools this year, Freedom Crossing Academy and Palm Valley Academy. In addition, we are transforming Mill Creek Elementary to Mill Creek Academy and serving sixth grade students in its first year as a K-8 academy.

Communication is always a focus, and even more so as our district grows. To further our commitment to creating dynamic learning environments for your children, we will expand our Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to help connect teachers and school leaders across the district. Extensive training has taken place this summer to familiarize district and school staff with the PLC process.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland shifted the focus to mental health and school safety during the legislative session this year. Senate Bill 7026 was passed and included security and mental health components that we have implemented and added in our schools. The collaboration of the Board of County Commissioners, St. Johns Sheriff’s Office and our School Board was paramount to our ability to implement SJSO school resource officers and armed security personnel in our schools. The current plan is to add to our 15 contracted youth resource deputies with an additional 16 after the start of the year. We also contracted with U.S. Security Associates to hire 28 highly trained professional armed security guards to safeguard our campuses.

In the area of mental health support, we have added six additional mental health counselors bringing our total to 13, three social workers to add to the four we currently have and two more school psychologists making 18 that will serve our district and schools. We will continue efforts in positive behavioral interventions and support good character to our students and staff.

I cannot thank you enough as parents and families within our district, and I hope you find this issue of St. Johns Parent full of relevant resources. I look forward to a wonderful school year with your precious children and am committed to their success each and every day.


James T. Russell, Superintendent of Volusia Schools