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Duval County (Fla.) district says it needs $1 billion to address facility conditions

Superintendent says the Jacksonville-based system has the oldest school facilities in Florida

The Duval County (Fla.) school district needs $1 billion to replace or repair existing school buildings, add classroom space and equip classrooms adequately.

The Florida Times-Union reports that Duval School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti told the school board it would need to look at options for acquiring funds to address the district’s “capital crisis.”

Vitti says school facilities in Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, are the oldest in Florida—about 70 percent of its buildings are 50 years old or older.

The superintendent has proposed several changes at schools that he characterized as “phase one” of an effort to deal with the district’s facility needs.

Among those proposals: converting some schools into magnets, and splitting up some elementary schools into centers specializing in preschool through second grade, or in third grade through sixth grade.

The school system’s options for addressing facility needs are limited by state policies that prevent a district from spending money on new buildings or expansions if other schools in the district are under-enrolled.

The school board could consider increasing the local tax rate, raising sales taxes or putting a bond referendum before voters.

Only a bond issue would raise enough money at once to raise $1 billion for new construction, expansion, repairs and maintenance.

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