The Master Facility Plan recently presented to the Duval County School Board includes recommendations that are equal parts shocking and disheartening: the closure or demolition of multiple historic schools.

These schools include West Riverside and Fishweir elementary schools, both of which are located in the Riverside Avondale Historic District. Schools are a critical part of the fabric of the Riverside and Avondale neighborhoods.

The closure recommendations are based on the erroneous assumption that aging buildings are inferior. The reality is that the historic neighborhood schools in our community are highly rated, academically proficient, destination schools. They are a vital part of our community. Any effort to close or demolish these schools will be absolutely opposed by Riverside Avondale Preservation on behalf of our membership.

West Riverside Elementary School and Fishweir Elementary School should remain open, public, neighborhood schools.

  1. Both are “A” schools with unique program offerings. West Riverside is a dual language Spanish-English school. Fishweir is a Performing Arts Magnet. Both offer a mixture of year-round active programming and community programs that retain a vibrancy in the neighborhood. 
  2. Neighborhood schools are a part of the fabric of this community. Like our unique architecture, historic street grid, commercial corridors and abundance of historic parks, schools like Fishweir and West Riverside Elementary are a part of the cadence of life in the Riverside Avondale Historic District. 
  3. Both schools are architectural landmarks. Built in 1911, West Riverside is the oldest operating elementary school in the state of Florida. Fishweir Elementary was originally a four-room school built on a cow pasture. Once opened, students arrived at school on Herschel Street by horse-drawn carriage.  As they grew, both schools had additions designed by the most famous Jacksonville architect, Henry Klutho. Like the historic homes that residents seek, these architectural landmarks are fundamental to the decision about where parents decide to live and send their children to school. 
  4. The Riverside Avondale Zoning Overlay protects these structures. Proposals like demolition, rezoning, exterior alterations, traffic pattern changes, sidewalk enhancements, and more, face additional regulatory requirements and standards within the Historic District. 
  5. Fishweir and West Riverside are walkable schools. As bussing continues to be a challenge for DCPS, walkable schools should be protected. Traditional Neighborhood Development design, popular in the U.S. until the 1940s, incorporates a mix of housing densities and styles with a walkable proximity to shops, workplaces, parks, and civic buildings.

The proposal to close, consolidate, or demolish these historic structures would destroy the diamonds of the Duval County Public School system. As destination elementary schools, these are high-performing schools with strong attendance and waitlists. Closing the district’s strongest schools to save money is not the answer. Instead, the district should turn its attention to addressing the dramatic attendance decline at Lake Shore Middle School.

DCPS must reconsider the decision to close the district’s best elementary schools.

DCPS must invest in programming to improve Lake Shore Middle School.

The Duval County School Board is reviewing proposed school consolidation and closings through a series of public meetings, followed by community focus groups with decisions expected in November 2024. Our district meeting is: 

Thursday, June 13, 2024, 5:30pm

Edward H. White High School, 1700 Old Middleburg Rd N., Jacksonville, FL 32210.

5:30 p.m. Reception: Review feeder pattern details; ask questions

6:00 p.m. Formal meeting begins; deadline to sign up for public comment

You don’t have to be a parent to support our public schools.

  1. We ask that all members and residents email each Duval County School Board member and share your feedback on the proposed closures. Ask that they slow down this decision, which absolutely should not allow the closure of high-performing, historic elementary schools like Fishweir and West Riverside elementary schools. 
  2. Attend the Master Facility Plan public meeting and provide 1-minute of personal testimony supporting our public schools as critical infrastructure on June 13, or any meeting.
  3. Fill out the DCPS public survey regarding the Master Facility Plan recommendations.
  4. Follow Save Our Schools – Save West Riverside Elementary School and Save Our Schools – Save Fishweir Elementary. Pages also exist for Stockton and many of the other 30 schools proposed for closure. Purchase yard signs and other items to show support as school teachers, administrators, and children need our help. 

Please voice your support for our schools today, and as many times as possible.

Help keep Riverside and Avondale a destination for families.