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Ormond Beach residents fight to keep last beachside school

Volusia County School District wants to close school, merge it with Ortona Elementary

ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – Osceola is Ormond’s only beachside elementary school and for many families, it has become a generational staple for the past 65 years.

“We’re only two streets from this school but I’m more concerned about all of the parents that live on the north end of the county,” Mike Pavelka said.

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Pavelka went to Osceola Elementary, his mother worked there and now, his children go there.

The school district wants to close it and merge it with Ortona Elementary, roughly eight minutes south in Daytona Beach. The plan calls for building a new $24 million school on Ortona’s property.

Parents like Pavelka are pushing a petition to instead have it built on Osceola’s campus saying its more centralized.

“Just that drive time and dealing with the traffic during special events at Ortona, this just makes more sense,” Pavelka said.

The city of Ormond Beach just passed a resolution giving $2 million to the district to keep the school at Osceola.

“During the half cent sales tax referendum, the voters here in Ormond Beach were told that there would be significant renovations to Osceola. They were never told that the entire school would be closed,” Mayor Bill Partington said.

The school board voted on the Ortona property in August 2020.

Board member Carl Persis thinks Osceola’s property is the better option but said it came down to money. He said the amount of revenue they expected from the sales tax was affected by the pandemic.

He said the district architects told them it would be cheaper to build on Ortona’s property.

“If everything was exactly equal, which site is the better site? Certainly, the site that’s larger, more centrally located, serves the most students,” he said.

Persis said the topic would be brought up at Tuesday’s school board meeting but any changes or final decisions would not be made at that time.