District approves Forrest High School name change

Published On: Jan 07 2014 04:26:07 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 08 2014 10:54:18 AM EST

The closing chapter in one of Jacksonville's longest-running and most emotional debates: changing the name of a school that was named for a confederate general almost 60 years ago. Nathan Bedford Forrest High is down to its last days with that name.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A school name change that's been talked about for years will finally become a reality this summer after a vote at the Duval County School Board's unanimous vote Tuesday night.

School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said Forrest High school will now be known as Westside Senior High School.

Last month, the School Board voted to change the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. The ties that the school's namesake had to the Ku Klux Klan had long been a topic of controversy in Jacksonville for years, and the latest debate had drawn national attention.

Westside Senior High School was the name that received the most votes from students, according to Vitti. The other option to rename the school was Firestone High School.

Under board policy, schools can no longer be named after people.

Vitti said it will cost up to $400,000 to change everything that bears Forrest' name, such as athletic uniforms, signs around the school, the marquee in front of the school, and the gym floor.

Vitti has also said community groups have offered to pay the cost so it will not come from education funds, though no donations have been made yet. If no money is donated to help with the cost, it would come from the district's capital budget, not from the school.

The name change will go into effect in July.

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