Jacksonville Civic Council Criticizes Parts Of Duval Schools Master Plan

Jun 5, 2019

A letter delivered to Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene outlines issues the Jacksonville Civic Council has with the School Board’s $1.9 billion facilities master plan.

But WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reports the district says the letter misses some marks.

The council — a self-described nonpartisan group of mostly downtown CEOs — hand-delivered and emailed a four-page letter last month to Greene regarding the school district’s outline to repair and rebuild county schools.

Related: Superintnendent Diana Greene Outlines The Master Plan On First Coast Connect With Melissa Ross

In that letter, the Civic Council praises parts of the plan, mainly the portion about consolidating campuses.

“The consolidation of underutilized schools will create efficiencies and lower maintenance costs, allow for better leveraging of high-level school leadership, and reduce neighborhood blight,” the letter said.

From there, the Civic Council pointed out what it called shortfalls within the project:

• “District spending plans are unnecessarily expensive.”

• It doesn’t account for decreasing enrollment in district operated schools.

• The plan doesn’t factor in charter school’s growth or facilities.

Duval County Public Schools spokesman Tracy Pierce said the district did, in fact, accommodate charter school growth into its plan. “Our predictions for charter school growth are almost identical to those of the Civic Council,” he said.

In addition, the letter said Duval schools could cut building costs if they used charter schools’ building standards. It criticized the plan’s allocation of $30,000-$35,000 per student seat versus charter school projects within the county that cost around $12,000-$15,000. But Florida law controls those costs because district schools have to meet certain state standards.

“The letter also asserts the district has authority to build to the lower building safety, security and quality standards of charter school buildings,” Pierce said. “This is also not true.”

An expanded version of this story that has additional reaction from the district is at Jacksonville.com.