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Clay County School Board votes to ask for sales tax hike

Half-cent tax revenue would fix aging school buildings, build new ones

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Clay County School Board voted Thursday night in favor of a resolution for a half-cent sales tax that would help pay for public school improvements.

A resolution asking that the tax hike goes before voters this October or November was approved 3-2. The resolution now goes to the County Commission.

It's a measure that board Chairwoman Carol Studdard said the school board has been considering for about a month.

"We live in fear that air conditioning is going to break, that the ceiling is going to fall in," Studdard said.

Photos shared by the Clay County School District show some of the run down and rusty equipment in some of its schools.

LINK: Compare proposed half-cent sales tax referendums in Duval, Clay counties

The half-cent sales tax would help pay for renovations and build new schools. The average age of a school in Clay County is 37 years old. The oldest school is more than 90 years old. According to the board, Clay County has the third highest number of portable classrooms in the state.

"For all of our children. They deserve to be in buildings that are safe and sound," said Teresa Dixon, who attended the meeting. "I find myself very frustrated by the site of beautiful charter school buildings paid for out of public funds for a relatively few number of our students, while the rest of the students sit in aging schools."

The school board said it needs about $350 million for upgrades and another $300 million to build new schools. The tax would span 30 years, bringing in about $13.5 million annually.

"Do I think we have great needs? Yes, I do. But I think we have to look at how we’re spending the money we currently have," said Mary Holtcamp, an Eagle Harbor resident.

The same topic is being debated in Duval County. Education and religious leaders and public officials have been pushing for the Jacksonville City Council to vote on putting a referendum on a half-cent sales tax to fund Duval County school facilities before voters in November.

The decision comes nearly a year after voters approved a property tax hike to fund school security.

About the Author:

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.