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Duval, Clay County schools plan for major renovations after half-cent sales tax is enacted

DCPS plans to build 28 new schools within the 15-year span.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County and Clay County schools celebrate Wednesday as the half-cent sales tax was voted for in their favor.

“The first thing that came to my mind — a brand new school," said Dr. Diana Greene, Duval County Public Schools superintendent. "We are going to be able to do it.”

Both districts will receive a significant amount of money spanning more than a decade to renovate their facilities.

Duval County Public Schools is estimated to receive about $1.9 billion in a 15-year span. Clay County Schools is expected to receive about $400 million in a 30-year span.

DCPS superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said some schools are past the point of repairs and it is more cost-effective to just build a new school. DCPS plans to build 28 new schools within the 15-year span.

The plan also includes building enough classrooms that will remove 438 portables and will reduce the district’s average building age by 11 years.

Both districts will begin receiving money in January.

Click here for the full DCPS half-cent tax plan.

For the DCPS plan of prioritizing projects, click here.

Both districts’ first priority is renovating for safety and security. For DCPS, any current renovations in that category will be completed within the next three years.

Once safety and security are accomplished, DCPS’ plan will prioritize its projects in this order:

  1. FCI Reduction: Eliminating the backlog in maintenance identified during the facilities inspection
  2. Reduction in Age: Replacing aging and inefficient school buildings that do not meet the needs of a 21st-century classroom
  3. Reduction in Seats: Decreasing unused student seats to reduce expense and achieve optimal efficiency in school occupancy rates
  4. Portable Removal: Eliminating portables which are expensive to maintain and secure in a school emergency and replacing with permanent 21st century classroom buildings
  5. Operational Savings: Consolidating underutilized small schools to obtain operational savings in school staff, equipment and resources

“There are a few steps we need to do first," Greene said. "We need to crawl before we can walk and we need to walk before we run.”

Schools probably won't see any drastic changes within the year.

“Everything really starts in January 2021 when we start receiving revenue,” Greene said.

Schools with the most expensive needs will be addressed first.

Greene said Rutledge Pierson, Mandarin High School and Fletcher High School are at the top of the list.

Clay County’s timeline is not available to view yet, as officials said there is an internal project plan, but not an exact timeline as it will take time to get contractors and bids.

“It’s been several years in the making and I’m excited clay county decided to invest in our schools and our kids,” said Clay County assistant superintendent Bryce Ellis.

Clay County District Schools currently has 42 schools with the oldest being 92 years old.

“We have a backlog of deferred maintenance that we need to dig ourselves out of," Ellis said.

The county currently uses 900 portables, which the district said are at or beyond their lifespans.

Currently, existing facility upgrades total more than $300 million. New growth construction is projected at $300 million over the next 5 years to 10 years.

“We’ll have new classroom wings, new playgrounds, new electric marquees for the schools," Ellis said. "Just kind of dress up the schools at the front and be more inviting to the students and community.”