After debating the issue for a year, the Duval County School Board in Jacksonville approved on Tuesday the district’s recommendations to strip and replace the names.
The schools to be renamed are Joseph Finegan Elementary School, Stonewall Jackson Elementary School, J.E.B. Stuart Middle School, Kirby-Smith Middle School, Jefferson Davis Middle School and Robert E. Lee High School.
“The level of community engagement in this process was unlike anything we have ever experienced,” school board Chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen said in a statement. “The support of organizations like the Jax Chamber, the Florida Times-Union, and the NAACP demonstrate how meaningful this was to our future as a community. Every message we send our children needs to be about inclusivity and belonging. Removing Confederate names from our schools helps accomplish that.”
Board member Ashley Smith Juarez requested the names of three more schools — Jean Ribault Middle School, Jean Ribault High School and Andrew Jackson High School — to be changed. Ribault and Jackson were people “responsible for systematically marginalizing and killing Indigenous people,” Juarez said in her request.
“After dozens of meetings, hours of public testimony and a massive stakeholder balloting process, the recommendation to the board was to leave those three names and to change the original Confederate six,” Duval County Public Schools spokeswoman Tracy Pierce told CNN. “The Board approved that recommendation, and those names will not change.”
The Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) has launched the School Renaming Fund to cover the costs of renaming the six schools. This will include painting, changing uniforms, signs and gym floors to match the schools’ new names.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have also offered $200,000 to pay for athletic and cheerleader uniforms for the schools undergoing the name changes, Pierce said.
Despite the verdict, the decision did not come without opposition.
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“It was clear to me that with the removal of Confederate monuments in Jacksonville that the focus would turn to the school board and I felt we should be proactive and examine the history of those schools named for Confederate officers,” he said.
CNN’s Harmeet Kaur contributed to this report.