$13 million project ahead for local school

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Flooded hallways, portable classrooms and overcrowding in the cafeteria are just a few of the major issues students at a local high school have been forced to tackle. They're in a historic building that has undergone some changes over the years but now a major overhaul is in the works for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

The building was once the only school on the Southside open to African American students in 1922. Fast forward 92 years later, the historic building is still standing but in desperate need of repairs.

"When it rains this hallway becomes a swimming pool," said Julian Robertson. "And this hallway is impossible to get through when it rains."

Robertson is in his Junior year at Douglas Anderson. He complained of the flooding issues in the school's science wing, a section of the campus to be revamped. But that's not the only issue students face.

"I had classes way far out there so it was like I had to run, book it whenever it was raining and be soaking wet," said senior, Katie Sacks.

Without enough space for classrooms, for the past decade Douglas Anderson students have had to use portable class rooms with no shield from the rain.

Connor Driscoll says on any given day you'll find students lined up outside of the cafeteria, perched wherever they can find a spot to eat lunch.

"Any space is occupied during lunch," said Driscoll. "Like all along the lockers people are sitting down."

The schools cafeteria seats about 250 people and the student body is more than 1,200.

"This building being very old build in 1920's and then the 1950's wings that were added it's not wired for today's technology," said Principal, Jackie Cornelius.

She has served as principal since 1996 and for years she's lobbied for change. By 2008 it appeared the much needed repairs were finally going to happen, when the state approved it as a capital project.

"But the bottom came out when it came to our economy," said Cornelius. "We were in a recession I guess if not a depression. And everything was put on hold."

Seven years later Cornelius says she now knows her efforts have not been in vain. Among the changes ahead for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, are larger pipes to tackle the flow of water, wiring for technology throughout a brand new building, 61,000 square feet of additional space, state of the art science labs and a brand new cafeteria.

"It'll be really cool to have space to just stretch out and be like yeah this is ours," said Robertson. "We're a high school now!"

The project is estimated to cost $13 million dollars. The schools new cafeteria will also serve as a community hurricane shelter. The new building is scheduled to open in 2015. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for September 4.


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment