Two well-established private schools agree to merge

The Episcopal School of Jacksonville
The Episcopal School of Jacksonville

Episcopal School of Jacksonville (ESJ) and Beaches Episcopal School (BES) announced the two schools will become one on July 1, 2020. 

Adam Greene
Adam Greene

After thorough discussion and an in-depth review, the governing boards of ESJ and BES, the Diocese of Florida, and St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church voted unanimously to merge BES into ESJ to continue their mutual mission of Episcopal Christian education. A legal agreement was signed on Dec. 13. Both schools believe this combination advances the passion and commitment each school has to quality education, which benefits its students and families, as well as the faculty and staff, and the greater Jacksonville community, according to a statement released Dec. 14, 2018. 

ESJ was established in 1966 and its 56-acre campus includes a 28-acre estate once belonging to the Packer-Cummings family. Upon Mary Packer-Cummings death in 1912, she willed the land to St. John’s Cathedral, which used it to open a boys’ home in 1921. The home for needy children closed in 1953 as a result of financial issues. Some 10 years later, a planning committee began the process of establishing an Episcopalian high school, with the first class graduating in 1970. Current enrollment is 900 students in Grades 6-12.

“We look forward to honoring the wonderful history and culture of Beaches Episcopal as it is merged into Episcopal School of Jacksonville. We are excited for the opportunities this merger will create for our schools and our community,” said the Rev. Adam Greene, ESJ Head of School since 2017.

Beaches Episcopal School
Beaches Episcopal School

BES, which has 132 students, is more than a decade older than its Duval County counterpart, having been established in 1952 as a pre-kindergarten/kindergarten by St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. In 1957 it became a parish day school and by 1966 included six full grades. The school was renamed Beaches Episcopal School in 1991, acknowledging a broader community outreach.

Martha Milton
Martha Milton

Martha Milton has been Head of School at BES since 2013. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to become one with Episcopal School of Jacksonville. The merger of the two Episcopal schools reflects the importance of continuing an excellent academic education for children that nurtures mind, body, and spirit. We are looking forward to a robust future,” she said.

The two schools will spend the 2019-2020 school year working on the operational implications of the merger. BES will continue to operate as an independent school through June 30, 2020, after which time it will be fully merged into ESJ. 

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