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Local nonprofit seeks to transform Clermont Elementary into community center after closure

Clermont Elementary School. Photo: LCS
Clermont Elementary School. Photo: LCS

A newly formed nonprofit is hoping to transform Clermont Elementary into a multi-generational community center after it closes in 2023.

On Monday night, the Lincoln Park South Lake Alliance introduced the idea to the Lake County School Board.

The campus is important in the Clermont area as the former site of Lincoln Park School, a segregated school for Black children before integration.

Now the alliance envisions of a center designed for education, employment training, and arts and recreation.

LPSLA Chairwoman Sharon Keys says they’ll pursue partnerships with Lake Technical College, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Central Florida Urban League.

"It is our hope that this facility remains in the neighborhood as a community center for the use and betterment of our South Lake County communities," Keys said.

School Board Chairman Kristi Burns welcomed their plan.

"It’s wonderful to see such a developed vision," she said. "I hope we can partner together with that."

Board member Marc Dodd said the School Board has talked about career technical training there and will be a good neighbor.

"I'm very confident that we will leave that school in good hands for some great purposes," Dodd said.

In an online survey, the nonprofit is seeking input on community needs.

The Aurelia M. Cole Academy, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023, will replace Clermont Elementary and Clermont Middle school.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.