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Moving to Palm Coast, a Parent Asks: What Schools and Sections Are Best for My Kids?

| September 1, 2011

Palm Coast bound: Kristen Jordan with her son Will and her daughter Anna.

It’s a common question when moving: what school to choose, what neighborhood to live in? Kristen Jordan is close to moving from Gainesville to Palm Coast, after deciding not to live in Volusia County, even though that’s where she’s likeliest to work. We invited her to share her story and the challenges she faces, and ask her questions directly to readers in hopes of getting a little local guidance–and insights into what readers think about their own communities and schools.

By Kristen Jordan

I am a mom of two in Gainesville, considering relocating to Palm Coast very soon for job opportunities in Daytona.

I was told that Volusia schools aren’t that great and that I would be better served in Flagler County. We’ve been to Palm Coast a couple of times, looking around, and we do like it. We have determined that Palm Coast fits our family needs for several reasons: Beach access, lower rents, a quiet and calm atmosphere, the fact that Flagler County utilizes the services of the University of Florida’s Jacksonville CARD office and is in close proximity to the Daytona area for work needs. That means I won’t have to drive an hour to get back and forth to my children in the event of an emergency. The city is clean and easy to navigate.

I’ve been researching schools and think I would like for my children to go to Old Kings or Rymfire Elementary. I would love input from parents who have kids in the area’s schools as I feel you all are the “real” testament to schools’ pros and cons.

I have a daughter in 5th grade who has been in a great magnet program in Gainesville for the last three years. Anna needs to be challenged and have a chance to work ahead if possible, without having to be stuck in the confines of the typical curriculum. By typical curriculum I mean that students have the chance to utilize teachable moments and expound on interests during lessons. Perhaps they would be able to revise a normal lesson plan or project to adjust somewhat to a child’s interest. This may be accomplished just by offering a choice of one task or another, but I know that children do best when they are able to self-direct a bit and develop their interests.

My son Will, entering 4th grade, has Asperger’s Syndrome and his particular needs have to be addressed too. He doesn’t need huge accommodations but he does need some specific plans in place and an administration and staff that is Spectrum intelligent and family friendly because I am vocal if need be when it comes to the kids’ education. He needs encouragement and a feeling of safety to be at his best academically.

I noticed in my research that there seems to be a fairly strong group of ESE parents in Palm Coast, so if anyone has further insight into this, I would love any and all input. I am a graduate student in Education and Applied Behavior Analysis and would love to meet a group of families who understand ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders).

We have had some difficulty with schools in Alachua County regarding my son so I am seeking a school that is very open to parent input and looks at us as the experts when it comes to our kids. I would like to find a school that realizes that there is no “one size fits all approach” to teaching, will not tolerate bullying, with an appreciation of the fact that each child brings something unique and that will work to cultivate this uniqueness, not stifle its growth.  I would really appreciate anyone’s input.

Last thing I will ask for help on is neighborhoods. Can someone tell me what neighborhoods are zoned for Old Kings or Rymfire, and give me a sense of what neighborhoods are appealing and what neighborhoods may be less so? I do not know the area well enough to be able to distinguish yet, and it would make searching for a rental a lot easier if I know where I need to be.

Thank you.

Kristen Jordan can be reached by email here.

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25 Responses for “Moving to Palm Coast, a Parent Asks: What Schools and Sections Are Best for My Kids?”

  1. K says:

    If your son’s ESE teacher at Old Kings would be Laura Schiller I highly recommend you make that choice for him. She is one of the best ESE teachers you will find in Flagler County’s elementary schools.

  2. Bonnie says:

    The “P” section off parkview is great lots of kids to play with aand Wadsworth school is great and has all the services your children need. My youngest wemt there now he is a senoir at FPC and now my grand daughter goes there.Good Luck

  3. knowsalittle says:

    There are many children attending Flagler Schools with ASD. One thing to be careful is too make sure he does not end up in an EBD program. In my experience, children with ASD in an EBD program end up becoming victims of the true EBD students.

    Rymfire and OKES are good schools, as is Belle Terre Elementary. In my opinion, the area/neighborhood around Rymfire seems to have more issues than other neighborhoods. Belle Terre neighborhoods are good.

    As for your daughter, Bunnell Elementary has the gifted program for elementary students.

    Visit for information on all the zoning for schools.

    Good luck in your move.

  4. flagler parent says:

    i am a huge advocate for belle terre elementary both my children had the honor of going there and the teachers have given them a strong foundation for success in their education they are both honors students in middle and high school and my daughter in the 7th grade was given the opprotunity to take the sat and scored high enough to get into college and was awarded a medal from duke and i truly credit it to the hard work her teachers at belle terre and indian trails put forth i moved from volusia county to palm coast soley for the schools and wouold not trade the advantage it has given my children for anything as far as neighborhoods go i lived in the Ls for 6 years and noticed a steady decline in the influence of positive things i lived in the ws for the last year and it is quiet but did not really love it i finally purchased in the woodlands off old kings by the grahm swamp preserve and it is quiet and loving the friendly neighbors hope your move is successful and wish yu the best :)

  5. teacherturnedSLP says:

    My son has high functioning autism and we live in Volusia but I teach in Flagler. There used to be an autism support group but due to low membership it kind of fell away. There’s a GREAT yahoo group called The Spectrum of Volusia County and they may be able to help you as well. I have a friend with a son with autism at Old Kings and he’s REALLY thriving. Very ASD friendly. Best of luck to you!

  6. 20 Year PC resident says:

    The ESE program in Flagler leaves much to be desired, if you secure an IEP for your child you will need to be a strong advocate for them. If you do not have the time or do not have knowledge of how FAPE or IDEA works then I suggest you hire an educational advocate. The school system will only do what they have to, funding is a huge problem in schools across the country as every one knows. Flagler County School District’s ESE dept is only interested in saving money, they do not care what needs a special education child has. I know this because I have been living the nightmare that is associated with having a special needs child in this school system. Florida is a terrible state to go to school in, the state does not hold the districts accountable because they say we just do not have the manpower to patrol every school in the state. School districts know this and take advantage of bending the rules in their favor, they know most parents will give up fighting due to the cost. This is by no means an attack, nor is it saying teachers are bad, this is simple math; schools have cost cutting meassures in place and that equals services for our children are being cut. Every accomidation a special needs child uses cuts into that tight budget, they will tell you things like “if little Johnny just applied himself more he could do better” this is not the case with some kids, they require accomodations and extra help. Teachers are so over whelmed with 25 plus kids in a class that they just do not have time to provide the education these kids require. Honestly if you are looking for a good school district, I cannot recomend Flagler, personal experiance with the ESE dept will not allow me to tell you it is a good district. Hope you find what you are looking for, a friend has a SN child in Volusia and they love it there, good luck.

  7. IMOKRU says:

    Check out Pheonix Academy for your daughter. If you want them in a school together Wadsworth is FANTASTIC!!

  8. Liana G says:

    Ms Jordan, have you looked into Florida’s McKay Scholarships which offers students with special needs the opportunity to attend a participating private school?
    The link is –

  9. DKGEq says:

    Be careful where you look for rental’s if looking in the P section near Parkview. I live there, but closer to the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet club and my block is ok…but PLAINVIEW is horrible. I can’t believe I live only blocks away from such a crime infested drug area.The area is behind Wadsworth and has A LOT of rentals that are not kept up, garbage everywhere, so just be careful. As much as I LOVE my home and my neighbors, I will be looking towards Seminole Woods where my parents and in-laws live as soon as I can afford it! Steer clean of PLAINVIEW which is off of Parkview. As far as schools go, I am not sure as my daughter is not of that age yet. GOOD LUCK!!

  10. elaygee says:

    Boy did you get it backwards. Volusia County Schools are light years ahead of support and services for special needs kids as well as advanced placement classes. All the non profits who help are located in Ormond and Daytona.
    Flagler schools give Alabama and Mississippi a run for their money to the worst goal line.

  11. Bob Z. says:

    Bunnell Elementary is a great school with caring teachers.

  12. JL says:

    Flagler schools are great. My sons moved around alot due to their Dad being in the Navy, so they saw a lot of schools. We all agree that we liked Flagler schools the best. Wadsworth, Buddy Taylor and FPC did a wonderful job. My youngest was in Wadsworth, my oldest only attended FPC, and graduated from there, and my middle son attended Buddy Taylor and FPC. They received a wonderful education that helped them in college and beyond. I would recommend the P’s over the W’s only because it seemed there were more children. I think Palm Coast is a wonderful community to live in and is very family oriented.

  13. yogi says:

    I would go to the schools and sit through some of the classes and actually speak face to face with some of the parents of the children. The internet is not always what is seems. You don’t know who is on here and what their values are.

  14. Rob says:

    I read the August 17th article, From Bad to Worse: Flagler and Florida Students Near Bottom in National ACT Scores, .

    How can anyone heap praise on and extol the merits of the Flagler County schools?

    Shouldn’t the administrators’ feet be held to the fire? And yet everyone is looking for a raise.

    Moreover why aren’t parents irate over these findings?

    Did I read something into the article that was not presented?

  15. NewtoFlagler says:

    Flagler county’s schools are full of mostly fantastic teachers, but the administration and leave a lot to be desired.

  16. Kristen says:

    I want to say thank you for all of the feedback, it is varied as I expected it to be. I was given feedback on Volusia schools by an Applied Behavioral Therapist who is working with kids on spectrum in Daytona, hence the reason I began looking at Palm Coast/ Flagler. I am already a fairly savvy advocate for my son
    ( both kids really) since we have had a great deal of difficulty here in Alachua county with my son’s education. So much difficulty that I had to remove him from school in the last half of his 2nd grade year due to extreme anxiety his school was creating for him. This was after IEP’s, 504’s, input from his ABA therapist, his psychiatrist and the recommendation of a functional behavioral analysis for him by the county’s Psychologist that was DENIED by the school as they felt they understood the function- they did not. He was declared home-bound and had an in-home teacher for the last 4 months of that year. He did very well during this time.

    It appears to me, as far as Florida goes as a whole, parents have got to be involved and have got to squeak loudly sometimes in order to be heard. I have no problem with this anymore. There is no such thing as ‘just sending your kids to the neighborhood school and everything being ok”, unlike when I was a kid. I never expected to have to fight so hard to get a well fitting school for my children. As it is right now, I drive 12 miles out of my zone to get my son to an elementary school that ‘gets it’. It is worth every drop of gas and getting up 15 minutes earlier to accomodate because he is thriving. Seeking a school(s) is something that I take very seriously for my family. I’ve seen the effects of a lackluster school that is not versed in spectrum. I have seen my son get labeled “troubled” because noone understands Asperger’s syndrome and find it easier to go with status quo than to become informed to address his needs well. I have also seen a school go beyond the call of duty to ensure that my child is comfortable and his needs addressed. I cannot express what a beautiful thing it is to watch my son happily get out of the car and toodle off to school.

    So I am very adamant and concerned about where he, and his sister, may be placed when considering a move. After all the fighting and work, it is my responsibility as a parent to make sure that what we need is available to maintain growth. If anyone had told me 10 years ago that my biggest hurdel and source of concern would be good schools for my children I really would have thought them crazy.

    Thank you again for sharing your views on Flagler county schools. Kristen

    • becky wolf says:

      Kristen Iam preparing to relocate to plam coast with two teenage daughters. I dont know when this was published but Iam desperate for sound advice on someone whos been in my shoes. Do you like the area and how are the schools? ect.. i would be grateful to hear from you.

  17. Just a word of advice “HomeSchool”. Your child with special needs can still attend some if not all his classes at Old Kings (which is the best school for a brick and motar school). Understand though that NO CHILD can be taken care of and taught in a school setting and learn more than in his or her own home environment. Large classes,underpaid teachers, and kids that reflect all the dirty values they learn at home and elsewhere. And if your a working mom and think you can’t do it there are virtual academies that are absolutely free and they come with teachers. Your children are beautiful,precious gift give them what they deserve.


    don’t move here…what you see is not what you get

  19. Kristen Jordan says:

    To FlaglerNative: I have actually considered home schooling a great deal. I am curious to know if you home school your children, if you have any, and how that is working for you? My concern, and I admit that I don’t understand how it all works, is how to accomplish home schooling as an only parent who has to work. Therein lies my dilema but truthfully, since my son’s diagnoses and difficulty with school and my daughter not being challenged enough in curriculum, it is something I do think about regularly. I look forward to your input!

  20. Mom to 5 says:

    My children had attended Wadsworth. We loved the staff and teachers but left because the teachers are not free to deviate from their scheduled curriculum. This coupled with the lack of funds for field trips, and taking away recess because their is not enough time to allow for it was enough. We are trying a charter school this year. Best of luck to you and your family Flagler does have some amazing teachers :)

  21. Palm Coast Citizen says:

    Do not move to Palm Coast. The schools are better in Volusia. I know because I have children in both systems. Not to mention all of the BS rules that you have to follow in Palm Coast…mow your yard, don’t park that boat or trailer at your house, don’t park on your grass, etc., etc., etc. You will be better off finding a place in Volusia County. Good luck!

  22. Bob Z. says:

    In response to:

    September 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm
    don’t move here…what you see is not what you get

    We moved here in 2005 after 15 years in Maryland; I met my wife in St. Augustine in 1988. There is no where else I would rather live than in Palm Coast…when the first thing I see in the morning is the ocean and everything I could want is withing 10-15 minutes, with very little crime compared to other areas, why would someone not like it here? So it sounds to me that JMILLER@YAHOO.COM is the one that should not live here.

  23. Liana G says:

    @Bob Z. who says:

    “Bunnell Elementary is a great school with caring teachers.”

    You have a moral responsibility to inform Ms Jordan that you are associated/employed by this school/ district. Your opinion in therefore bias and self serving.

  24. ItIsWhatItIs says:

    Although this is from 2011, I must weigh in…to save others who may come across this in the future!

    By all means, yes, if you are a family who enjoys leaving cars up on cement blocks for years at a time in front of your home, using sheets in lieu of curtains, never mows your weed-filled yard, leaves dog shit in people’s yards for someone else to step in and track into their homes, likes to park all of your “weekend gear” in your front lawn, please, please do not move to Palm Coast and go to Daytona instead. Daytona is filled with that “special something,” and they not only love doing it, the entire community encourages it! And that is way Daytona is the scuzzy place that it is known for.

    Those crazies in Palm Coast think they are better than others because they enjoy their community looking nice and kept up; not to mention that the people who usually do enjoy this type of atmosphere are typically solid people who are law-abiding citizens who truly care about their community and the people in it. So don’t move to Palm Coast! You’ve been warned!!

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