School Board to hear recommended changes to facilities plan

Community meeting feedback considered as district presents update plan

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A plan presented months ago that calls for new schools in Duval County, renovations to current buildings and even consolidating some schools has drawn criticism from the community.

After dozens of community meetings at local schools, Duval County School District leaders have taken the feedback into consideration and will share their updated recommendations with the School Board during a workshop Tuesday morning. 

According to the district, the Facilities Master Plan is based on extensive research, assessments and community engagement and would create outstanding learning environments for students and staff who are currently in the oldest school buildings in the state. 

The plan will cost close to $2 billion, and the School Board hopes voters will approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for the changes. The Board has asked the Jacksonville City Council to put a sales-tax referendum to voters on the November ballot. 

The City Council must approve if and when the referendum would go on a ballot. Critics of putting it on the November ballot said a special election would cost money and have low turnout. 

Some city leaders and community members are pushing for the referendum to be placed on the November 2020 general election ballot, when there will be other items and races, and a greater turnout is expected. 

The bill was recently introduced to City Council, which has several more meetings coming up to discuss it, including a meeting Tuesday evening at City Hall when public comment will be heard on the topic. 

A school board workshop where the new plan will be presented is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday at the district headquarters building on the Southbank. News4Jax will have a crew there and will have updates on air and on News4Jax.com. 

The Board is expected to weigh in on new recommendations for the plan and potentially set a date in the near future to officially vote on the plan. 

For more information on the steps leading to the creation of the Facilities Master Plan, click here.

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