How Duval County’s half-cent sales tax would benefit schools in your neighborhood

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If passed by Duval County voters next month, the nearly $2 billion school improvement tax measure would see schools in one of the lowest-income areas of the city receive the highest amount of that tax money over the next 15 years.

The half-cent sales tax money would also go towards safety and security, building upgrades and renovations at schools across the city.

The district is looking at how badly those fixes are needed at each school and that’s how it’s prioritizing where the money will go.

For instance, at John E. Ford, a K-8 school in Northwest Jacksonville, the district decided on $11.7 million for upgrades.

Duval County Public School officials know how they’re going to spend every dime of the funds.

At John E. Ford, more than $500,000 of that revenue would immediately go to the building’s safety and security, nearly $3 million toward renovations and more than $8 million to improve facilities.

Michelle Buckley is the President of John E. Ford’s PTA and has a first-grader who attends the school.

She says she’s behind the tax measure.

“This is for our children, for our future, for our peace of mind. So when our children are in school, they’re healthy, we know that they’re safe, as far as the building is concerned," Buckley said.

And there’s an individual funding plan for more than 160 campuses across the district.

But how is the district deciding on the amount of tax revenue to give to each school?

“Schools with the greatest needs and oldest facilities will be prioritized, and every school will equally benefit with safety and security measures within the first three years,” according to DCPS.

So the schools in worse shape would get more of the tax revenue and the amount is also partly based on the number of students at each school.

John E. Ford is in the 32209 ZIP code, which also happens to be the area with the lowest median household income in the Jacksonville metro area at less than $25,000.

If passed, the half-cent measure would funnel more than $214 million to the schools in that zip code — the most of any area in the city.

While this ZIP code also has more schools than many others, City Councilman Matt Carlucci says many of them are much older.

“We have so many old schools all over Jacksonville, but a lot of them are concentrated in 32209. And in some of the other Northwest areas of Jacksonville," said Carlucci, co-chair of Duval Citizens for Better Schools.

According to a recent University of North Florida poll, 68% of respondents surveyed said they plan to vote in favor of the tax.

DCPS said, if approved, the cost of the referendum would average out to $6 per month for a family of four with an income of $56,000.

To see exactly how much of the tax money would go to each school if the measure is passed in November, click through to find every school on the interactive map below.

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