DCPS reconsidering proposed changes to Raines, Ribault High Schools

Child safety a main concern in consolidation

Parents and alumni gathered at Raines High School Wednesday, speaking out against proposed changes at several Jacksonville high schools.

ORIGINAL STORY: Parents concerned about violence if several Jacksonville schools are consolidated

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To deal with its aging schools problem, the district presented draft proposals that included turning Ribault and Raines high schools into junior and senior highs.

Northwestern Middle School would be transformed into an elementary school, which would serve students from three current elementary schools.

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“We do not want sixth graders mixed with 12th graders,” Gwendolyn Matthews-Smith said. “That just does not work.”

The changes would also include tearing down Raines and replacing it with a new building.

The Raines graduates told Action News Jax that they want children to be safe, but they also want to ensure Raines’ legacy isn’t erased.

Lashonda Holloway said countless athletes and leaders have come out of the school.

“This is very important to this community,” she said. “The schools are the center of this community.”

The district is now re-evaluating several of the draft proposals after concerns from parents.

They include:

•            J. Allen Axson/Chets Creek elementary schools
•            Venetia/Ortega elementary schools
•            Ribault High School/Ribault Middle School
•            Raines High School/Northwestern Middle School
•            Jefferson Davis Middle School to Raines and Ribault along with several other scenarios.

The district is asking parents to come to two meetings to join the conversation.

One will be held May 6 at 6 p.m. at Raines and the second at Ribault on May 9 at 6 p.m.

One other concern the alumni shared – whether Raines would see a name change. The district confirmed to Action News Jax that Ribault and Raines would retain their names.

The district has already made changes to the following proposals:

•    The district will preserve the historic architecture of Kirby-Smith Middle and Loretto Elementary in the replacement process, and
•    The district will meet the need for a middle school in fast developing southeastern Duval by making the proposed new K-5 into a K-8.

Full statement from DCPS:
The recommendations presented to the community over the past month are draft recommendations developed by our consultant. We want the community's input as we take the draft recommendations from the consultant and develop final recommendations which will be presented to the Board at a later date.
In fact, the community feedback we have already received – including more than 1,600 survey responses – have already led to revisions to some of the draft scenarios. Regarding the consultant's draft recommendations for Raines and Ribault, we received clear input from the community that further conversations were needed.
This is why we are scheduling further community engagement opportunities such as a community meeting at Raines High on May 6 and a community meeting at Ribault High on May 9. We remain dedicated to respecting the input of our community as we move forward in this process of creating outstanding learning environments for our students and staff.
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