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School board chair holds meetings with city leaders on proposed sales tax

Board Chair Hershey meets separately with Mayor Curry, Council President Bowman

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County School Board Chair Lori Hershey recently held separate meetings with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and City Council President Aaron Bowman to discuss the school board’s vote earlier this month to ask the Jacksonville City Council for a proposed half-cent sales tax increase.

On May 6, the school board voted in favor 6-1 to pass a resolution, asking the City Council to put a referendum on a ballot, letting voters choose whether or not to pass the sales tax to pay for upgrading the county’s aging schools. Council members have expressed mixed feelings about the half-cent sales tax and many said it won’t even be discussed for several more weeks once new council members have been sworn in.

The proposed tax would bring in about $80 million a year and would pay for the estimated $1.9 billion facilities master plan, which would renovate, replace and consolidate the city’s aging schools -- the oldest in the state, on average.  

Neither the mayor nor the school board chair provided News4Jax with much information on what was discussed inside the two meetings, but each sent News4Jax a statement. 

“Mayor Curry had a very positive meeting with Lori Hershey where they discussed a number of important topics, including the proposed tax. Mayor Curry does not believe that an expensive special election is the way to go, but he looks forward to continuing the discussion of improving education for Jacksonville families," reads the statement from Nikki Kimbleton, with the mayor's office.

“The meeting with Mayor Curry was encouraging as was the meeting with President Bowman. Mayor Curry has children enrolled in Duval County Public Schools and he is an engaged parent. I am confident that we will be able to resolve concerns and am hopeful that things will continue to move forward as we work together," reads the statement from Hershey.