Price-check: How much will it cost to rename 9 Duval County schools?
A school board workshop looked at the expense of renaming schools tied to Confederate generals and marginalization of Native Americans.
As Duval County Public Schools continues the process to consider renaming schools that have ties to Confederate Generals and the marginalization of Native Americans, one question still looms: how much will it cost?
In total, if all nine schools were approved by the community, school board and superintendent in the renaming process, it would cost the district approximately $2 million based on the district's projections. But the district doesn't intend to spend all of that from its own budget.
Superintendent Diana Greene summarized those expenses at a Tuesday morning school board workshop meeting.
More: Duval County School Board approves starting process to consider renaming schools with Confederate ties
More: Duval School Board to reconsider schools named after Andrew Jackson, Jean Ribault
Last name change cost $184,000
The last time the school district changed a school name was in 2014 when Nathan B. Forrest High School became Westside High. According to the school district, that name change cost about $184,000 with the bulk of the cost associated with uniform replacements.
Greene said the estimated cost for renaming secondary schools would be around $287,000 per school and for elementary schools, it would be around $32,000. The price for elementary school renaming is significantly less since those schools lack team sports and the kind of extracurricular activities middle and high schools have.
Currently, two elementary schools — Joseph Finegan and Stonewall Jackson — are up for renaming. Four middle schools — Jefferson Davis, Kirby-Smith, J.E.B. Stuart and Jean Ribault — are up for being renamed. Three high schools — Robert E. Lee, Jean Ribault and Andrew Jackson — are also being considered.
Back in July when renaming schools was originally put on the table, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund announced a fund to help offset renaming costs. To date, the school renaming fund has raised $8,753.85 according to its website.
More: Jacksonville Public Education Fund raising money for school renaming costs
From the get-go, concerns floated on social media that the school district's recently hard-fought sales tax funding would go toward costs associated with renaming schools instead of maintenance, security and technology like it was originally billed for.
District officials originally said that if tapped at all, sales-tax funding would only be used in a very limited, specific way.
An example school district spokesman Tracy Pierce gave News4Jax was that if a school is renamed that is also supposed to be significantly renovated, the district could potentially use sales-tax funding to buy new signage for the school after it has been both renovated and renamed.
“We want to be good stewards of taxpayer money,” Pierce told News4Jax. “So we are not going to pay for signs twice."
But during Greene's presentation, she said using sales-tax funding for school renaming was not going to happen, even going as far as running a giant red 'X' through the words 'Sales Surtax Dollars' during her presentation.
According to the PowerPoint presentation, school renaming costs would come from a mix of general funding, private donations, capital funding and internal accounts.
Renaming schools across the district has been a point of contention within the Jacksonville community for months.
At community meetings that started in February at individual schools to discuss potentially changing names, crowds have been split down the middle — and all have been vocal.
Older alumni seek to preserve history
Generally, older alumni at schools like Robert E. Lee have been vocal about keeping the original school names for the sake of preserving history and the integrity of their graduate classes while younger alumni and current students — particularly students of color — have spoken to the trauma associated with attending a school that in some cases was named after a slave owner.
Renaming any school doesn't happen overnight. It's a lengthy, months-long process that starts with a school board vote to initiate the conversation, goes through the superintendent and school community, recommendations are submitted by the superintendent and finally, there's a board vote.
There are still several community meetings for school stakeholders set to take place throughout March. By the end of the month, SAC meetings will determine the ballots at each school for renaming options. There are specific guidelines for renaming a school — including that it can't be named after a person.
From there, each school up for renaming will host an election. Most of these ballots are scheduled for April and May. The votes are tabulated and submitted. Once finalized, the school will submit results to the superintendent. From there, Greene will develop a recommendation and submit it to the school board. Finally, the school board will consider each recommendation and either accept, reject or request another name be proposed.
Duval Schools launched a "Name Change Tracker" on its website to help the community keep up with meeting dates and the process. It is available by visiting dcps.duvalschools.org/tracker.
According to the Name Change Tracker, Greene is expected to submit her recommendations by the end of May.
Below is a copy of Greene's presentation:
Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.