Keystone purchase of Accotink Academy By The Sea falls through

School to close May 31


The recently announced purchase of Accotink Academy By the Sea by Keystone Child Development Center will not move forward as planned, both parties confirmed this week.

Accotink Academy By the Sea will now close May 31, as was initially announced at the start of this school year.

“We want to express our heartfelt thank you and appreciation to the Ponte Vedra parents who allowed us to educate their children the last 18 years,” said Mark McConnell, executive vice president for Accotink Academy, Inc. of Virginia, the Ponte Vedra Beach school’s parent company. “Ponte Vedra will always be home to our family and while this is a sad ending for the academy, we hope Elaine’s legacy lives on in our students, teachers and staff.”

Last month, Keystone announced plans to purchase the school – which would become known as Keystone By The Sea – and continue with the existing Accotink Academy staff and administration along with some additions from its own staff. Enrollment was then opened for both summer and fall programs.

“A contract was executed and both parties agreed that enrollment should be opened for the 2016-2017 school year,” Keystone Founder and CEO Dr. Katherine Falwell said. “However, during the period of due diligence, the parties could not reach an agreement on the final terms of sale.”

McConnell noted that the contract negotiations did not involve Accotink Academy By The Sea or its parent company, as the property was privately owned by his parents, Warren McConnell, 95, and school founder Elaine McConnell, who died in January.

In August 2015, McConnell said, his mother – then in failing health – had made the difficult decision to close Accotink Academy By The Sea and sell the property at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 school year following many years of operating losses.

“Because of my mother’s passionate dedication to the school and the community, she took the losses year after year,” he said.

After notifying the staff about the decision to close the school, McConnell said, two potential buyers for the property came forward, but the sale with Keystone did not close after the parties could not agree on the final terms.

Falwell said that all parents have been notified that the sale will not occur and all deposits that had been held in escrow were immediately refunded.

“Although we are extremely disappointed in the outcome, we remain committed to bringing the benefits of an exceptional preschool and child development center to families in the Jacksonville Beach and Ponte Vedra Beach areas,” Keystone Founder and CEO Dr. Katherine Falwell said. “We are actively reviewing other properties and anticipate opening a Keystone By The Sea location in the near future.”