Duval School Board discusses charter school tax allocations

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One week after the Duval County School Board clearly saw during a joint meeting with the Jacksonville City Council that a portion of whatever money would be raised from a potential sales tax was expected to go to charter schools, the board met to formulate its response.

The council is set to vote next Tuesday on whether a referendum for a half-cent sales tax to fund capital improvements for schools can go before voters, and when.

The School Board's master plan already called for every school -- traditional and charter -- to get $5 per square foot for security upgrades. On Wednesday, members discussed a draft proposal that would also dedicate capital improvement money to charter schools based on how long they had educated students in Duval Country.

This proposal would use the same standards for allocating money to charter schools unless they are in a building that is leased -- which some charter schools do.

The oldest charter school in Duval County was built 22 years ago, while the oldest traditional school is more than 100 years old. Some board members expressed that this is a win-win because everyone gets a piece of the pie.

At last week's meeting, council members proposed allocating the money on a per-student basis. School Board Chairwoman Lori Hershey said that won't fix the problem of aging schools in the district.

"Sometimes a facility may have a greater need and the facility may not reflect the number of students in attendance," Hershey said. "So this really for us, for our traditional public schools (this) is an infrastructure project and we’re going to continue the conversation of sharing dollars with charter schools."

School Superintendent Diana Greene met with representatives from charter schools to lay out the district's master plan and also explain how the dollars will be shared. The School Board has another workshop planned for Monday morning. 

In committee meetings Tuesday, the Finance Committee voted to withdraw the bill entirely, while the Rules Committee voted to pass the existing bill, calling for the referendum to go on the ballot this year.

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