DCPS considers closing schools, including Atlantic Beach Elementary

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s known to the community as the “little pink school”. Atlantic Beach Elementary is an A-rated school built in 1939 and now faces closure under a new, initial proposal before the school board.


Duval County Public Schools continues its plan for consolidation as school enrollment district-wide has taken a major hit with the rise in charter schools and DCPS looks to improve operational costs.

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But part of this plan is getting major pushback from the community.

“This school to me personally is part of my heritage. It’s part of my experience. It’s the love I feel for this school and community,” Mary Ellen Young, a former ABE student who now lives across the street, said.

“To say this school is iconic would be an understatement. To close this school in Atlantic Beach would be to cut the heart out of this community,” Atlantic Beach Mayor Curtis Ford said.

RELATED: Three schools in one, board to vote on next step in DCPS consolidation plan

Under the previous plan, Atlantic Beach Elementary was slated for renovation. But under the new proposal, it would be closed and the school’s 480 students would move to Neptune Beach Elementary.

According to the report, the most efficient school size is 800 to 1,200 elementary students.

At the beaches, the proposal would also close Seabreeze Elementary, which would instead move to San Pablo Elementary. Anchor Academy, Mayport Elementary, and Mayport Middle would all combine into a new Mayport K-8 built on site of the middle school.

All those schools planned to be replaced or renovated under the original plan in place after voters approved the half-cent sales tax. But the district is working through increased costs, which according to the report for schools at the beaches, is more than $32 million over the original budget. It’s the same issue DCPS is facing district-wide.

READ: Some local private schools close to shutting down because of voucher controversy

But some community members still aren’t on board.

“This is not just about money. It’s not just about efficiency. This is about the soul of a community and raising our children to become adults,” Mayor Ford said.

The district said this plan is just the initial consultancy report and is in its very early stages. There will be planned community meetings to come.

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In a statement to Action News Jax, Board Member April Carney said, “Both of my children attended their neighborhood school, and I understand the need to keep those communities intact. It will always be a last resort for me to close one of our schools. I look forward to hearing from our constituents as we wrestle with ways to address the funding challenges facing our schools.”

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