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Crowdfunding Launched To Pay For Renaming Jax Schools With Confederate Identities

Outside sign of Robert E. Lee High School.
Via News4Jax
/
The Duval County School Board is evaluating changing the name of six schools named after Confederate generals.

The Duval County Public Schools district is looking for financial help to rename six schools named after Confederate generals.

The nonprofit Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) has set up a tax-deductible fund to help with costs associated with replacing the names.

“I think it would have a tremendous effect on the students and the communities,” said School Board Chairman Warren Jones. “People forget that these schools reside in a community that's very diverse.” 

Jones said the cost to rename the six schools - Joseph Finegan and Stonewall Jackson elementaries; Jefferson Davis, Kirby-Smith, and Jeb Stuart Middle schools and Robert E. Lee High School - would be between $700,000 and $1 million. 

“There are a lot of people who are saying it's gonna cost millions of dollars and they're using that as a way to attack, or recommend we don't change the name, but it's time to change the name and the cost will be less than a million dollars,” Jones said.

The donated money would be used for changes including signage, paint, athletic fields and courts, and uniforms for sports teams. 

In August, the school board will officially start engaging students, staff, faculty and alumni of the schools about the potential name changes. 

“We’re certainly understanding of the perspective that some who are interested in understanding how we can preserve history. That's one vantage point, said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “And then we know that others have the perspective and experience of not necessarily feeling as included because of the way that the the schools symbolize certain racial trauma and pain.”

Warren said when Nathan Bedford Forrest High School became Westside High in 2014, it came down to a student vote. JPEF played a similar role in the Westside High renaming. 

Fortune said that a name change is essential for minority students to have a better educational experience. 

“A huge part of that is really making sure that our students know that they belong in our schools and that our schools welcome them,” Fortune said.

People that are interested in making donations to the fund can go to jaxpef.org/renaming.

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.