Video outlines crumbling conditions of various Duval schools

School district releases video to show need for improvements

By Joy Purdy - 5:30, 6:30 & 11 p.m. anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Crumbling walls, broken air conditioners, leaky classrooms -- those are the conditions in which many Duval County children find their schools.

A video depicting the conditions was produced by Duval County Public Schools in an effort to better explain the need for taxpayer money, especially if a half-cent sales tax were to become reality.

Underneath a pod full of portable classrooms, the bottoms of some are falling apart. Stains on the ceilling are proof of leaking classrooms and just a simple touch crumbles the corners of some walls.

"Half of my portable is on a concrete slab. The other half is on the soil," said Brianne Biegun, a teacher at Sheffield Elementary School.

The district said Duval County has the oldest schools of any large school district in the state, and state budget cuts 10 years ago have led to extensive backlogs of maintenance and repairs, like broken air-conditioning.

"It makes it very hard for them to settle (down) because it's constantly, 'I need water. It's too hot in here Ms. Williams. Can we go somewhere else?'" said Alycia Williams, a teacher at DuPont Middle School.

In some situations, teachers say, there are sanitary hazards.

"We have a lot of problems with sewage odor and also the fact that there are no soap dispensers in the bathrooms that work," said Donna Brovich-Kennision, a teacher at Raines High School. "It just sends a very strong message that they are not important and that they are not equal, and it breaks my heart."

The half-cent sales tax is not on the agenda for discussion at Tuesday's City Council meeting. Councilman Reggie Gaffney said he not only wants to discuss it during the meeting but is in favor of putting it on the ballot for voters to decide.

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