Explainer: How the balloting process for changing local schools’ names works

Jackson High, Lee High, Ribault schools’ balloting still to come

Explainer: How the balloting process for changing local schools’ names works
Explainer: How the balloting process for changing local schools’ names works

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With the public input meetings completed at the nine Duval County Public Schools buildings slated for renaming consideration, the next step in the process, which allows stakeholders of the schools to submit an official ballot on the question, is well underway.

The community balloting process is the final official opportunity for members of the public who have ties to the respective school to weigh-in on whether the campus should be renamed, and what alternative name should be adopted.

The polling place at J.E.B. Stuart Middle School is poised to close at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, with Kirby-Smith Middle, Joseph Finegan Elementary, Jefferson Davis Middle and Stonewall Jackson Elementary schools had already closed up their balloting windows.

Andrew Jackson High, Robert E. Lee High, Jean Ribault High, and Jean Ribault Middle schools are scheduled to open their polling locations on April 26.

Who Can Vote?

Only those who have a specific connection to the school community are eligible to cast a ballot on the question of renaming the school.

Students, members of the school’s faculty & staff, members of the School Advisory Council (SAC), members of the Parent-Teacher Association or Parent Teacher Student Associations, Community members within the school’s attendance zone, and Alumni of the school.

Upon arriving at the school’s campus polling location, prospective voters will need to verify their eligibility via personal ID, student ID, yearbook photo, passport, utility bill, or any other document that proves their status as one of the stakeholder groups listed above.

Poll workers told News4Jax that voters who fit in more than one stakeholder group can vote multiple times based on their eligibility. For instance, if a person is a teacher and also and member of the school’s alumni, that person could vote twice.

The district posted address verification maps that prospective voters can use to see if they reside in the attendance area.

What’s on the ballot?

The ballots at each school include three questions for voters to answer beginning with their stakeholder groups.

Then, the ballot asks the voter whether or not the name of the school should be changed.

Finally, the ballot includes the list of alternate names of which the voter is asked to select one. The alternative names are being decided by the School Advisory Committees at each school.

This sample ballot was provided to voters in 2021 and provides a look at what they can expect when they weigh in on the question of renaming nine DCPS buildings. (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

What happens to these ballots?

Once the voting window closes, the ballots at each school are taken to the Supervisor of Election’s office where they’re verified and counted.

A form from the SOE’s office will then be filled out with the official results and delivered to the school’s Office of Policy and Compliance to be entered into the official record.

From there, each school’s advisory council will hold an open meeting to enter votes for each member’s choice for the school name. Those votes are then added to the final total.

Still, the community balloting process does not decide the final fate of the school names.

“Your vote will be used to generate aggregated data from your stakeholder group(s),” the district’s website said. “The formal results for each school will be submitted to the Superintendent for her review. The Superintendent will review and analyze all of the community input and submit her recommendation to the School Board for consideration.”

Ultimately, it will be the DCPS school board’s decision whether to rename any or all of the schools.

When will we see the results of the ballot process?

A spokesperson for DCPS told News4Jax Wednesday that the voting results will be released after the canvassing board meets to determine the status of any provisional ballots.

“The canvassing board meetings will be public, and we expect those to occur in mid to late April for the elementary and middle schools and in mid to late May for the high schools, DCPS spokesperson Sonya Duke-Bolden said. “Final results will be released on the district’s website soon after all votes are counted.”

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