JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Duval County residents possibly being asked to support another type of tax increase, this one to improve teacher pay, the News4JAX I-TEAM is looking into what the school district has been doing with money from its last tax increase.
In November 2020, voters approved a half-cent sales tax, which started in January 2021.
But the half-penny tax was designed to enhance safety and security at school and to address what’s been described as crumbling infrastructure.
“Our goal is, within the first three years, every school will be touched, whether it’s adding additional fences or a second barrier inside the school,” Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said in February 2020.
Greene spearheaded the effort to get voters to approve the half-cent sales tax. The tax was slated to generate $1.9 billion for school repairs and new construction over a 15-year period.
The I-TEAM wanted to see how your half-penny has been used to date, through a dashboard that’s available to everyone on the Duval County Public Schools website.
According to the most recent numbers, Duval County school system has received $92.27 million in sales taxes through November 2021, with $80.26 million going to district schools and $12.01 going toward charter schools.
The half-penny sales tax is being used to support the renovation and rebuilding of Duval County’s public school buildings. The Master Facilities Plan also provides safety and security upgrades at all schools, addresses crumbling school infrastructure and reduces the use of portable classrooms.
A deeper dive into where the district has spent money so far shows:
- The single largest amount has gone toward Northwestern Legends Elementary, with approximately $977,000 spent on critical needs.
- Long Branch Elementary follows, with roughly $689,000 in spending on critical needs.
- About $497,000 has been spent so far toward the replacement of Rutledge Pearson Elementary.
- At Lake Shore Middle, about $494,000 in tax money has been spent on security and safety upgrades.
- Roughly $408,000 has been spent at Fletcher High on security and safety upgrades.
School board officials say 45 projects are in design, one is in construction and four projects under the Facilities Master Plan have been completed.
Design work is already underway for security and safety upgrades at about 40 schools, with construction starting in the next few months. All schools in the district are expected to receive security enhancements within the next three years.