Duval School Board approves name change of Lee High, 5 other schools

JACKSONVILLE, Florida – After nearly 11 months of debate, the Duval County School Board voted Tuesday in favor of the Superintendent’s recommendation to rename six public schools bearing the marks of controversial historical figures.

The board also approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to retain the names of Jean Ribault Middle, Jean Ribault High and Andrew Jackson High.

Dr. Diana Greene’s recommendations came after stakeholder votes were counted in these schools. Here’s what will happen to the nine school names:

Before the vote After the vote
Robert E. Lee High Riverside High School
Andrew Jackson High Remains the same
Jean Ribault Haute Remains the same
Jean Ribault Midfielder Remains the same
JEB Stuart Midfielder Westside College
Jefferson Davis Midfielder Shippers Academy
Kirby Smith Midfielder Springfield College
Joseph Finegan Elementary School Ancre Academy
Stonewall Jackson Elementary School Hidden Oaks Elementary School

The vote was 5-2 in favor of changing the names of Lee High, JEB Stuart Middle, Jefferson Davis Middle, Kirby-Smith Middle, Joseph Finegan Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Elementary. The “no” votes came from board members Lori Hershey and Charlotte Joyce.

The name changes are expected to be implemented on August 3.

The board voted unanimously to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation to retain the names of Jean Ribault Middle and High. The vote was 4-3 in favor of the recommendation to keep the name Andrew Jackson High. The “no” votes came from board members Warren Jones, Elizabeth Andersen and Darryl Willie.

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Tuesday’s vote comes after months of emotional debate on both sides of the issue that has garnered national attention. Opponents of the name changes last week displayed a dozen Confederate flags on the property of Duval Schools as people gathered for a protest and the two sides clashed in the parking lot with microphones and megaphones.

Before the reunion began, Greene took a moment to reflect on the past school year and thank everyone for their efforts amid the pandemic. Speaking on the renaming of the public schools, Greene said the process took an “incredible” amount of staff, patience and time.

“Tonight what we’re doing, the goal is that it will make a difference, whether it’s one of our students or thousands of our students because Duval County Public Schools, we’re going to go beyond that and we’re going to make sure that from the boardroom to the classroom, every day matters to our students, ”Greene said before the discussion.

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During the public comments, several dozen people spoke to the Council. Some included graduates of Robert E. Lee High School, a school that saw the most public participation during the voting process. He received 58.6% of the 6,513 votes in favor of the name change.

“Do not confuse the hard-working taxpayers of this city with the naive or the gullible. It might be Florida, but rest assured, we know a snow job when we see one, ”said Melanie Lovely, Lee High Class of 1979.

“How do you think it seems to taxpayers that you are even thinking about spending money that is not going to maintain the school or the classrooms?” Said Norman Abraham, Lee High Class of 1959.

According to the Superintendent’s recommendations, the renaming of Robert E. Lee High School will cost more than initially anticipated, approximately $ 366,000. (The breakdown continues with the other schools below)

Also present at the meeting were members of the Northside Coalition, a group that has been outspoken in its intention to change names.

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“We cannot go back on the decision to finally remove these names from our public schools,” said Christine Hatfield, member of the Northside Coalition. “History doesn’t get erased because names come out of buildings. That’s what books are for.

“It’s not over yet,” said Avery Black, who supports the name change. “It is just one more step towards equality for all and to let everyone know how much they are loved and supported.”

Colleges – including JEB Stuart, Jefferson Davis, and Kirby-Smith – are now estimated to be cheaper to rename than those initially cited – less than $ 150,000 each.

Elementary schools – Joseph Finegan and Stonewall Jackson – are also included in the initial estimate. They will cost around $ 12,000 each.

School Updated cost estimate Initial cost estimate
Joseph Finegan Elementary School $ 12,000 $ 32,000
Stonewall Jackson Elementary School $ 12,000 $ 32,000
JEB Stuart Midfielder $ 143,307 $ 287,000
Jefferson Davis Midfielder $ 143,307 $ 287,000
Kirby Smith Midfielder $ 148,307 $ 287,000
Robert E. Lee High $ 366,302 $ 287,000
Andrew Jackson High N / A $ 287,000
Jean Ribault Haute N / A $ 287,000
Jean Ribault Midfielder N / A $ 287,000
Total $ 825,223 $ 2,073,000

Jean Ribault Middle, Jean Ribault High, and Andrew Jackson High High Schools did not receive estimates because they were not recommended to be renamed.

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The total cost of renaming the six schools is approximately $ 825,000.

According to Greene’s recommendations, private donations would cover 76% of the cost, with the remaining 24% coming from sponsorship dollars through the school district’s beverage contract. It is estimated that the district plans to spend $ 202,000 if the school board approves Greene’s plan.

Funding sources Amount
Private donations (76%) $ 623,223
Sponsorship funds from beverage deal (24%) $ 202,000
Total cost of renaming the six recommended schools (100%) $ 825,223

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.




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