Community input leads to refinement of draft facilities master plan

Updated: Apr 10, 2019

April 9, 2019 - Duval County Public Schools sought the voice of the community, and the community responded.

The district has the oldest school buildings in Florida, and draft plans to manage the maintenance challenges associated with these buildings drew almost 8,800 video views and more than 1,600 surveys responses.

“Ultimately we want to provide all of our students and staff with a learning environment that enhances learning and school culture,” said Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene. “We received clear input from the community that some of the consultant’s initial ideas require additional conversation. We must take bold steps on behalf of our students, and we need to do so in a way that respects the input of our community.”

The first “bold step” was an analysis of each of the district’s school buildings to identify the maintenance issues and prospective repair or renovation costs for each building. The analysis looked at conditions of mechanical systems like air conditioning, electrical systems, roofing, and other building components.

Following that analysis, a consultant studied enrollment trends, building capacity and other variables to develop draft recommendations for each school on how to best address their unique facility needs. Recommendations included safety and security improvements, renovations and consolidation of schools, and building new schools.

Last month, community meetings were held in each board member district to review the draft plan’s impact on that area’s schools. A survey was available online for the community to provide input into the draft plan.

While the bulk of the draft plan drew minimal commentary, several school-by-school scenarios drew comments that require further community engagement.

Dr. Greene said the district will work to find solutions that can meet the needs of future students and address current community feedback. The scenarios that remain under discussion include:

  • J. Allen Axson/Chets Creek elementary schools

  • Venetia/Ortega elementary schools

  • Ribault High School/Ribault Middle School

  • Raines High School/Northwestern Middle School

  • Jefferson Davis Middle School

The district will continue the conversation on these scenarios in different ways. In some of these instances, Dr. Greene will hold more dialog in the school community to better understand concerns. In others, the district will conduct additional surveys to evaluate potential alternatives.

The district has already made some changes to the master facilities plan based on the current round of surveys:

  • The district will preserve the historic architecture of Kirby-Smith Middle and Loretto Elementary in the replacement process, and

  • The district will meet the need for a middle school in fast developing southeastern Duval by making the proposed new K-5 into a K-8.

Specific information regarding upcoming community meetings will be shared in the coming weeks on the district's website and social media platforms.

You can review the recommendations presented for all seven Board member districts by visiting here.

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