By Warren Jones Duval County School Board Chair – Our school buildings are on average 44-years old. Some have been around 100-years.
That makes them the oldest in Florida, as well as the state’s worst facilities. They lack the high-technology infrastructure needed to provide a modern education.
Many buildings are dangerously dilapidated. Ceilings are falling, unsafe stairwells are closed for lack of repair.
Broken air conditioning systems are the norm, forcing children to learn in classrooms that feel like ovens on hot days. Schools have been flooded because of faulty sprinkler systems, and many classrooms have no windows. An elementary school has a sinking foundation.
There are 500 portable classrooms spread around the county. That means in these days of terrorist attacks on public schools, our students face Code Red drills as easy targets with no secure place to hide from a potential shooter.
It is shameful.
Obsolete buildings are robbing students of their educational opportunities, especially in our community.
Our students and teachers deserve much better.
By voting “Yes” for the half-penny referendum on the General Election ballot, we can raise the money needed to clear the back log of maintenance issues, eliminate most portables, renovate and modernize buildings that are falling apart, and build needed new schools.
A half-penny will produce $1.9 billion dollars over its 15-years of life. Every new school will be constructed to be safe, secure, and modern to enhance learning.
As chair of the Duval County School Board, along with my fellow board members, I made sure that $860 million of that $1.9 billion will be spent right here, in our community, repairing and rebuilding our schools.
In school board member Darryl Willie’s District 4, $458,785,417 will be spent at 32 schools. That includes four new schools, $312 million in major school repairs, and removal of 41 portable classrooms.
In my District 5, eight new schools will be built, $223 million will be spent on major school repairs, and 83 portables will be removed.
That is $860 million in new construction in our community.
We not only will build better schools. Hundreds of jobs will also be created for us and our neighbors.
Please remember that the half-penny referendum is on the back of the ballot, right after the Constitutional Amendments, and near the bottom.
Do not overlook it. Go to the bottom of the ballot.
Voting “Yes” is one of the most important things we will ever do.