As anticipated, the renaming of local schools is not going unchallenged.
A growing group of rather irate taxpayers is fighting the proposed changes vociferously.
Their website is savetheschoolnames.org and one member of the group gave Eye on Jacksonville a rundown on the situation.
“Renaming the targeted schools will disrupt their historic identities, decimate alumni financial support, and waste upwards of two million dollars: dollars that could be used to help with costs of Covid-readiness, and for improving academic and social outcomes for the students, ultimately benefiting the entire community,” opponents say on the website.
Melanie Love, Lee High School class of 1979, said the plan would be costly, and would disrupt history without any justification.
School Board Chairman Warren Jones and Superintendent Diana Greene are leading the effort to change the names of nine local schools, including Lee High.
Cleverly, they are putting off the effort until after the upcoming elections. School officials are asking voters to impose a half-cent sales tax on themselves to building new schools.
That effort already is difficult because of the economic damage from the Red Chinese virus. There has to be a lot of selling to get taxpayers to raise their own taxes in the face of a recession, or depression.
But supporters are spending more than $1.5 million in the push to get the tax accepted at the polls.
Meanwhile, the impetus for school renaming is coming from the far left, which also is opposing law and order, and changes sought by the cancel culture. One group is the Northside Coalition, which is “demanding” changes in American history, traditions and culture.
The schools facing a name change are Lee and Jackson high schools – two of the oldest schools in the city – along with Joseph E. Finegan Elementary, Stonewall Jackson Elementary, Jefferson Davis Middle, Kirby-Smith Middle, J.E.B. Stuart Middle and Ribault middle and senior high schools.
Love said the high schools are a particular problem. Many of the city’s most prominent people have graduated from the local schools and high school has a special place in the memories of most people. Those memories would be disrupted, along with history, by a name change in the name of political correctness, which is what the current move is: pandering to the left.
One dubious claim by proponents is that it will improve educational outcomes. There is no rational nexus to that, nor much empirical evidence. Forrest was a C school before its name was changed to Westside, and it remains a C school six years later.
That renaming cost $350,000 and opponents say nine more will cost at least nine times as much as that.
Love also said it is strange that the school system would be pushing a large expense at the same time it is promoting a huge tax increase.
She also was skeptical about the need for the tax.
Proponents cite the fact that the average age of local schools is 44 years, and maintenance is expensive.
But school officials didn’t wake up one morning to find schools aging and in need of expensive repair.
Each year they have voted for a budget. It is supposed to have priorities. Rather than talking about building a shiny new School Board building, for example, they could have assigned a higher priority to replacing old schools as past boards have done. If they fell behind, it was not an accident.