New Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary opens for students with $40M in upgrades

After two years of construction, the brand-new Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary School opened its doors to students Monday for the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

It is one of 28 projects in Duval County paid for by the half-cent sales tax that voters approved in 2020.

District officials are calling the new school “the most modern school in the district.”

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It cost $40 million to create the building that replaced the old school.

The district said the 900 students who will walk through the doors Monday deserve the upgrades they will experience.

“By updating our school facilities, we can assure that they have the best possible learning environment and are set on a path to success,” Mayor Donna Deegan said.

Students from the old Rutledge Pearson Elementary, Henry Kite and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementaries will all combine and be on the new school campus together.

Pearson Elementary is the newest public school in Northwest Jacksonville in 15 years, and the upgrades are readily visible.

The cafeteria is equipped to be an emergency shelter, if necessary.

The abundant technology includes learning walls, state-of-the-art interactive systems and speaker and sound systems.

The school is named after civil rights icon and Jacksonville native Rutledge H. Pearson, who among plenty of other historic moments was instrumental in the integration of Jacksonville schools.

His son is thankful to see this moment.

“Our family, the Pearson family, thanks everybody here for their contribution,” Rutledge H. Pearson Jr. Said. “For the fight of freedom was not for just Black people, it is for everybody.”

The new school is opening on time after a few years of construction, reaping the benefit of money from the half-cent sales tax approved by voters to support more than $1 billion worth of maintenance projects that the district said were delayed because of state funding cuts.

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