Duval County school district leaders may soon be looking for a new home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The main office of Duval County Public Schools is in a convenient, central location of Jacksonville.

But during a workshop last week, Duval County School Board member Lori Hershey said it’s time to consider making a move.

“When this building was built, over 30 years ago, at this location, it was a really barren wasteland, and there was an idea to help instigate growth and spark new life on the Southbank,” Hershey said.

Hershey said the Southbank evolved and so did the value of the DCPS building.

Since improvements in 2014, it’s value went from nearly $1.59 million to more than $4.91 million. The total value of the property rose by nearly $2.43 million in the last six years.

“I just feel like the time is right. My preference, particularly in leadership, is to be in the driver’s seat versus responding,” Hershey said. “And the final time of relocation may come after my time on the board, but having said that, I just believe that we are in a good position now to have this conversation to look at what our serious options are.”

The idea was welcomed by other board members.

“I totally agree with Ms. Hershey that now is a good time to explore that,” said School Board member Warren Jones.

School Board Vice Chairman Darryl Willie said: “Through the chair, I could definitely get behind this resolution. I’m glad we’re being bold and bringing things up that need to be brought up.”

Board member Kelly Coker said the district’s needs are different than they were when this building was first acquired.

“Not only do I think we owe it for our city, but I think we owe it to the employees in our district as well, Coker said. “This building, we continue to try to make it what it needs to be for us. And we are a very different school district than we were when this building was built.”

As for what will happen now, the superintendent will be drafting a proposal to start the exploration process.

Hershey said it will likely be a long process that might even outlive her time on the board.

A proposal is expected to be brought up at the next School Board meeting in December.

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