ICYMI - Bold new plan to bulldoze away more than $1 billion in maintenance repairs

June 25, 2019 - Merging community feedback with expert research, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene presented a plan to the School Board this month that enhances safety and security features at all schools, prioritizes more than $1 billion in maintenance repairs, and addresses inequities and out-of-date educational environments across the district.

This bold new plan, said Dr. Greene, lays the foundation for a better future for schools, students, staff, and the entire Duval community.

“I am proud of this plan,” said Greene. “It is a collaborative vision that represents the hours of tireless work from staff as well as the passionate input from our community. It also reflects what I truly believe is a better future for our children and for our community."

Highlights of the $1.9-billion plan include:

  • Construction of 28 new schools as either replacements on site or on new sites.

  • An 11-year reduction in the average building age of buildings as a result of the plan.

  • 20 consolidations impacting 40 schools with children from those schools attending new or renovated buildings.

  • Removal of more than 400 portables and cutting more than 3,000 student seats from the district’s inventory.

The recommendations from the superintendent showcase how public input has shaped the Facilities Master Plan. Substantial changes were made to the consultant’s initial report as a direct result of the community input received. This includes:

These changes include:

  • Preserving historic architecture of Kirby-Smith Middle School and Loretto Elementary School while investing more than $46 million (Kirby) and $21.4 million (Loretto) in upgrades and renovations. The initial plan had called for both schools to be demolished and rebuilt.

  • Construction of a new William M. Raines High School and Jean Ribault High School while maintaining as grades 9-12 high schools. The initial draft plan called for both schools to be reconstructed as 6-12 schools.

  • Maintaining Chets Creek Elementary School as a K-5 school and adding classrooms to address over-utilization. The initial plan was to divide the school into a K-2 (which would be located at J. Allen Axson’s current location) and a 3-5 (which would exist at Chet’s current location). The Superintendent’s recommendations call for J. Allen Axson to remain at current location and have additional classrooms added.

“From the very beginning, I have shared that the community’s voice is vital in our plan to enhance the learning environments for our children,” said Greene. “After holding over 20 community meetings, receiving almost 8,800 views of the initial draft plans, reviewing 1,600 responses to our surveys, and meeting with dozens of community leaders, parents and employees – I can say that this plan is a reflection of our research and assessment by expert consultants as well as our extensive community engagement.”

The Superintendent’s plan maintains the focus on improving the safety and security of all schools while addressing the top priorities head-on that were consistently heard from the community, which includes the inequity in facilities and resources throughout the district.

For example, the oldest and most in-need schools reside in Districts 4 and 5. In the plan, these districts will receive the greatest percentage of funds with $458.8 million (24 percent of the funding) reserved for District 4 and $401.8 million (21 percent of the funding) reserved for District 5.

“This plan must be bold because we are so far behind in maintenance and construction funding when compared to other districts,” Greene said. “While other districts made up for cuts in state funding by going to voters, Duval did not, and now we need to catch up.”

Once the Board reviews and provides feedback to the recommendations, the next step will be for the final plan to be presented to the Board for a vote at an upcoming Board meeting. This is anticipated for the July Board meeting.

The district’s recommendations for the Facilities Master Plan is available at https://www.ourduvalschools.org/see-the-plans.

Watch the video below to view a message from Dr. Greene about the bold new plan.

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