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$44 million investment into Griffin Middle School meant to boost student success

Posted at 5:45 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-13 17:45:21-05
  • $44 million will bring major upgrades to Griffin Middle School.
  • Students will receive a new cafeteria, new gymnasium, new classes, and several technological updates.
  • Watch the video to find out how it will boost education quality and transform the Frenchtown neighborhood.


Highly anticipated upgrades are finally coming to Griffin Middle School. Finding out what changes students can expect to see and why they are so important for the Frenchtown neighborhood.

Leveling the playing field, it's been a long time goal for Leon County Schools, administrators said $44 million for students at Griffin Middle School will do just that.

"We can't even fit our entire school population into a cafeteria," said Edward Shulla, a teacher who has been at the school for 27 years.

Shulla said this money, that will build a new cafeteria, new gym, and some new classrooms, will remove barriers to success for students.

"To give us less hindrances to the achievements that we can do and will do in the future," said Shulla.

Some of these barriers included inaccessible Wifi for all students. That will change following these renovations.

"Have access, they can stay online, and be on par and compete with other students," said Shulla.

Principal Zelena O'Banner of Griffin Middle School said this $44 million dollar investment will change the atmosphere here.

"Kids wanting to be at school, teachers wanting to be at work," said O'Banner, and boost student success. "When things look nice, kids perform well."

Tarran Jefferson, a school counselor here, said these technological upgrades will also help retain local talent.

"I think that we'll steer some of our kids back home," said Jefferson.

Jefferson said the new developments will also help de-stigmatize the 32304 zip code.

"I think people will have a more positive outlook, it's just because where we sit, the outlook is kind of negative," said Jefferson.

Rocky Hanna, Superintendent of Leon County Schools, said this construction is part of the commitment he made in his role to invest resources into Title 1 schools.

"That facility looks the same as it did back in the 1960s, and back in the 1970s, and those children deserve better, and now they're going to get it," said Hanna.

Hanna said this project adds to the investments they've made at schools across Leon County totaling over $184 million.

"Those kids deserve the same quality of facilities that students at our schools have," said Hanna.

This project is funded by money the district sets aside for large projects and a half cent sales tax.

8th grader, Yancy Aurelus, said she is excited for the new buildings, and for the look on the outside to match the work that is happening on the inside.

"The extra passaz is going to blow it over the top," said Aurelus.

Tancy Aurelus, a 7th grader, said getting new equipment means a lot to her.

"This school is really trying to get these kids to succeed in life and learn," said Aurelus.

Helping turn the idea of a level playing field, into a reality.

"Reinvestment into this school does generate school pride," said Shulla.

Griffin Middle School said affected buildings will be cleared during Spring Break. Construction will begin when students are let out for summer break.