Rendering of Rutledge Pearson's anticipated new school front

A year into half-penny sales tax sees progress on new construction, safety and security updates

Feb. 16, 2022 – On Nov. 3, 2020, voters overwhelmingly approved a voluntary half-penny sales tax to fund a historic facilities improvement program for Duval County’s public schools. Just over a year into the half-penny project, district staff and contractors have been working tirelessly to advance the design, development and renovation of schools across the district.

Revenue on target with needs

The half-penny sales tax revenue reached $92.27 million through November 2021. The district received $80.26 million from the collected revenue, with the remainder going to charter schools as required in Florida law. The funds garnered to date are sufficient to fund the district’s current ongoing projects within the master facility plan.

Prior to voter approval of the tax, the master facility plan was approved by the School Board. The master facility plan is the guiding document on how the district will deploy the tax revenue now and in the future. The 15-year voluntary half-penny sales tax will continue to build revenue, resulting in the creation of safer school buildings and improved learning environments throughout Duval County.

New and replacement buildings underway

  • New K5 Rutledge H. Pearson: The new school, with a capacity of over 900 students, will serve as a prototype elementary school. Construction for the new elementary school is expected to begin in June 2022.  The new school will house the student populations of Rutledge H. Pearson, Henry F. Kite, and Martin Luther King elementary schools. Students from the three schools will transition to the new campus in August 2023.
  • Chaffee Trail Middle: The new school project has moved to the design and development stage of construction. During the January School Board meeting, Zyscovich Inc. was selected as the architectural and engineering firm over the project, and construction management firm Gilbane Building Company was awarded pre-construction services. The school is expected to open in August 2024.
  • Highlands Elementary:  District staff are developing the design contract for the new school and gathering pictures and documentation at Highlands Elementary to complete reports required by the state of Florida to gain approval to demolish the current school buildings. If approved, the new campus is expected to open in 2024.
  • Southside Estates Elementary: Like Highlands Elementary, Southside Estates Elementary is currently going through the same process of developing the design contract and having reports completed for demolition approval.   The new campus is expected to open in 2024.

Safety and security prototypes completed

The master facility plan calls for safety and security building upgrades at schools in the first three years of the half-penny funding. The district chose one elementary, one middle, and one high school to be prototypes for the safety and security upgrades at all schools. Each prototype is evaluated against a preestablished scope of work for all safety and security projects. The standards allow teams to accelerate design and implementation as they define solutions to existing and potential security challenges.   District schools will receive similar updates in the near future.

  • Biltmore Elementary School: The safety and security updates for the elementary prototype included exterior and interior lighting improvements, installation of identification-controlled door access systems, and landscaping which included trimming and removal of trees and shrubbery to increase visibility and limit access to buildings and school property. The school also had door locking hardware upgraded and installation of clear directional signage. This project was completed in December 2021.
  • Lake Shore Middle School: The safety and security updates for the middle school prototype included improvements to school fencing and gates, and the addition of window film to provide an extra layer of security for forced entry and damage. This project was completed in November 2021.
  • Duncan Fletcher High School: The high school safety and security prototype received window impact resistant film, and bollards (vertical protection post in the front of a building, guiding vehicular traffic), and landscaping which included trimming and removal of trees and shrubbery to increase visibility and limit access to buildings and school property. The school also installed identification-controlled door access systems. Due to material shipping delays, external lighting, directional signage, fencing and gate installation are expected to be completed by March 2022.

More security projects coming

  • Forty-two schools in 2022: The commitment to improve safety and security at all schools across the district within the first three years of the 15-year sales tax program, means the district will be on an aggressive schedule for the next two years. These 42 schools are expected to see improvements in 2022:
    • Abess Park Elementary
    • Alimacani Elementary
    • Arlington Elementary
    • Arlington Heights Elementary
    • Arlington Middle
    • Atlantic Beach Elementary
    • Atlantic Coast High
    • Bartram Springs Elementary
    • Chets Creek Elementary
    • Crown Point Elementary
    • DCPS GRASP Academy
    • Don Brewer 3-5
    • Duncan Fletcher Middle
    • Fort Caroline Elementary
    • Fort Caroline Middle
    • Greenland Pines Elementary
    • Jacksonville Beach Elementary
    • John Allen Axson Elementary
    • Joseph Finegan Elementary
    • Kernan Middle
    • Kernan Trail Elementary
    • Lake Lucina Elementary
    • Landmark Middle
    • Lone Star Elementary
    • Loretto Elementary
    • Mandarin High
    • Mandarin Middle
    • Mandarin Oaks Elementary
    • Marine Science Education CTR
    • Mayport Elementary
    • Mayport Middle
    • Merrill Road K-2
    • Neptune Beach Elementary
    • New Berlin Elementary
    • Parkwood Heights Elementary
    • Sabal Palm Elementary
    • San Pablo Elementary
    • Terry Parker Senior High
    • Twin Lakes Academy Elem
    • Twin Lakes Middle
    • Waterleaf Elementary
    • Woodland Acres Elementary

The half-penny sales tax project will continue to fund the projects outlined in the district’s master facility plan, approved by the School Board in 2020. The district will continue to analyze enrollment shifts over the life of the tax. If enrollment shifts require modifications to the plan, the district will bring those modifications to the School Board. Project summaries, funding, schedules and more can be found on our master facility plan implementation website.

For detailed view of quarterly progress reports, visit the oversight committee documents webpage.

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