Parents speak out against plan to move Sneads Elem. students to Grand Ridge

Sneads Elementary in Jackson County is an 'A'-rated school.
Sneads Elementary in Jackson County is an 'A'-rated school.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 9:47 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Jackson County School Board is moving forward with its plans to close Sneads Elementary School and move its students to soon to be built Grand Ridge School. Meanwhile, some parents are concerned.

“I like our school,” Lindsay Kiefer, a parent, said. “This is one of the best elementary schools in Jackson County. A big reason why I let them come back to public school was because we had access to this great A+ school in Jackson County. If we don’t have access to this any longer I’m not sure mine will attend public school.”

It’s been a staple in the community for decades, but now the old building will no longer be used. According to Superintendent Steve Benton, Jackson County School Board members voted in September to close it down and move students to Grand Ridge. On Tuesday, January 17, school board members will vote on layout and construction plans.

Jessica Nebors has a child who was planning to go to Sneads Elementary.

“I’m afraid when you combine the two groups from Sneads and Grand Ridge, the [learning] environment might not be the same,” Nebors said.

Sneads Pre-K through 4th-grade students will join Grand Ridge’s 5th through 8th grade students. The plan is to build new buildings to add to Grand Ridge School.

However, some Sneads leaders are on board with concerned parents.

“We’re dead set against the school board going forward with the current plans,” Sneads Town Manager Lee Garner said.

However, Superintendent of Jackson County Schools, Steven Benton, said making Grand Ridge School a Pre-K - 8 school is better for both the students and community in the long-run.

“So it’s just common sense to move it there to Grand Ridge’s site because the Grand Ridge site has the city water, the city sewer, and the park right there beside it which we’ll be able to use,” Benton said.

The state gave the school board close to $53 million to build a Pre-k through 8 school.

Benton also said Sneads Elementary infrastructure is very old.

Grand Ridge wasn’t the only option to build the school. The Four Points area near Sneads was also a possibility. However, certain environmental issues and increased costs ultimately got in the way.