JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A virtual forum was held Tuesday night to discuss the proposed half-cent sales tax that would benefit Duval County Schools, which voters will make a decision on during the November election.
Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, School Board Chair Warren Jones and City Councilman Matt Carlucci each made presentations. The ongoing pitch to improve the district’s crumbling schools has been challenging in light of the pandemic, with many families struggling as parents have been out of work, needing assistance.
Tuesday’s forum was held by Indivisible Mandarin, a grassroots organization eager to hear from experts about the proposed half-cent sales tax.
During the meeting, Carlucci reminded the group that this is a grassroots campaign to pass the referendum and said he’s seeing supporters picking up yard signs and helping spread the word.
Jones said he’s been told the referendum will be last on the ballot. He suggested that voters go to the bottom of the ballot first when voting so that they don’t get “lost” with the number of other referendums on the ballot.
Greene has said revenue generated by the tax would support the district’s key focus areas for improvement; decreasing the number of persistently low-performing schools, improving literacy, increasing instructional rigor, recruiting/retaining high-quality employees and improving school facilities.
During an online seminar in June, Green pointed out that the average age of Duval County schools facilities is 44 years, the oldest such figure in the state, with Miami-Dade County and Hillsborough County tying in second place at 33 years.
The half-cent sales tax, Greene said, would supplement state revenue such that the district’s $1.91 billion master facility plan would be funded over the next 15 years.