The terrible symbol the school board building has become

I am going to lay some knowledge on you if you  are young or new to Jacksonville. The city used to stink, I mean literally and really, really stink. We dumped garbage into the river like it was our job and we had the paper plant on the Northside of town, which belched noxious fumes that would put even your uncle Larry to shame, and where he can clear a room, the paper plant cleared a quarter of the county. 
Furthermore forty years ago there was nothing on the water front except ship yards, and they didn’t do much for the aesthetic feel of Jax either. Back then when DCPS cleaned up the polluted spot where the school board building now sits they were considered heroes for putting the building down there and bringing in workers.
Fast forward to today and things have changed a bit, we have the district now and builds are coming fast and furious to downtown and whether deserved or not the school board building has become a symbol for all that’s wrong with the district.
People think here we have this gleaming tower stopping progress, whose sale could solve all our problems. Heck the Times Union even threatened the district in an op-ed this week, basically saying sell it or you don’t deserve any extra funding.  
From the Times Union,
Finally, any new source of funds will require public support — but that won’t be easy to generate as long as the school district keeps its administration building on prime waterfront property.
The Duval school district should be pursuing an aggressive plan to move the administration building off the riverfront.
Wow, once again proving the Times Union editorial staff is right less often than a broke clock when it comes to education.
Now you might be thinking, Chris, don’t be a hypocrite, you have called for the selling of the school board building as well and I have but I wanted them to sell it and then move the offices to a neighborhood crippled by poverty. I want the district to convert Jackson High school into the new school board building.
Before I am excoriated I get it, Jackson High has great kids and is doing a lot of great things.  I hope you get though, that the school is severely under enrolled. It has the facilities to hold a couple thousand students but has less than a thousand. I hope people also understand that the amazing programs at Jackson which is a magnet now and doesn’t serve many neighborhood kids could be put elsewhere, like perhaps at Ribault and Raines whose attendance is way down from their hey days too.  
We should all know by now that poverty is the number one indicator for how children do in school, the long and short is students who live in it don’t do as well as those that don’t. I figured putting a few thousand people working in the neighborhood would be a huge shot in the arm. It might be able to pull a few families out of poverty. I wasn’t thinking sell it just to make a point.
School board chair Lori Hershey was on First Coast Connect where she was invariably asked about the school board building because a fair portion of the city believes selling it will solve most of our woes. She pointed out that not only was the building and property paid for costing the district nothing but it was only valued at ten million dollars.
Now that might sound like a lot, but the reality is that is less than one percent of our billion dollar plus construction/maintenance/repair hole.  
From First Coast News,

Duval County Public Schools estimates the county needs over a billion dollars to repair the inside and outside of the district’s 158 campuses.

Board Members learned the news at a district workshop Tuesday. 56 buildings are in poor condition, including three that could be more cost-effective if they were closed.
Sigh, 56 would be cheaper if it they were closed. Those our public buildings owned by all of us, but because Jacksonville doesn’t have impact fees and Tallahassee loves charters that we because of a lack of resources have allowed to fall into disrepair.
Furthermore, how much do you think it would cost to build a new site and move, if the District passed on my genius suggestion anyway? My guess is a big chunk of that ten million dollars if not more.
So what do we do? Nothing, that’s what, we give the board a break and yes, I did just spit out my milk at the realization I wrote that, unless, hmm unless…
Unless, somebody like Peter Rummel, Wayne Weaver, Preston Haskell or some other rich guy who throws money around in school board races because they think they know best stepped up. How about we give the board a break unless one of them rides in and offers something like 30 million. Sure it’s a drop in the bucket when compared to our needs but now selling the building won’t put us in a hole and there may be some left over to really do something.
They say they are civic minded, the say they care about education, and as successful businessmen who wants to bet to bet they would be able to eventually turn a profit as well. Wouldn’t this be a win-win for everyone involved. Also Wayne, you aren’t taking it with you, can you imagine, the Wayne Weaver school board building?
Weaver and Gary Chartrand with a bunch of others invested in the QEA a few years back, an education initiative which I generally think we can agree was a failure, well why don’t they team up again and try and do some good this time.
We have problems, we do and a lack of resources may be the biggest, but selling the school board just to satiate the Times Union’s editorial board and those that don’t take the time to understand why the district hasn’t, isn’t going to solve them.
Now did I really write, give the board a break?  

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