With so many local, state and national races and issues on the ballot this fall, it’s only natural that you have questions about some of them. And we’re here to help you get answers.
Here’s a question from a News4JAX Insider about the half-cent sales tax to repair Duval County’s public schools. Anonymous wants to know: “How will the independent citizens monitoring committee be chosen? What oversight will they have?”
RELATED: What do you want to know before the election?
First off, thanks for sharing your question, Anonymous (you know who you are).
Let’s start with your first question: the membership of the Sales Surtax Oversight Committee is set by Duval County School Board policy. The policy says the committee will include 22 voting members, who are chosen by local organizations, from the Chamber of Commerce to the teachers union. “Each voting member shall have an outstanding reputation for civic involvement, integrity, responsibility, and business or professional ability,” the policy says. There are also two non-voting members who are selected by the superintendent and the district student government association.
Except for the union representative, these committee members cannot be employed by the district. And none of the members can have a contract with the district or any other direct or indirect conflict of interest. If a conflict comes up during a representative’s term, they are required to disclose it and resign immediately. Below you’ll find the complete breakdown of which organizations and institutions are represented on this committee.
DOCUMENT: School Board policy on sales surtax oversight committee
As for your second question about oversight: the committee is supposed to meet at least four times a year to review spending and progress on projects paid for by the sales tax to make sure funding is spent properly, according to the school board policy. The committee provides updates to the superintendent and school board after each meeting and makes recommendations about the use of any revenue or unspent money that was set aside for specific projects. It will also produce an annual report detailing its findings. Besides that, the panel is tasked with helping to keep the community informed about the projects' progress.
P.S. Here’s that breakdown of who gets to appoint committee members:
- One representative of a district parent organization. This position will initially be filled by the District Advisory Council and then alternate between that organization and the District Parent Teacher Association.
- One representative of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, also known as JAX Chamber.
- One representative of the Northeast Florida Builders Association.
- One representative of the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors.
- One representative of a college or university in Duval County. At first, this position will be filled by a representative from Edward Waters College. Then the position will alternate between EWC, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville University, and the University of North Florida.
- One representative appointed by the mayor of Atlantic Beach, Baldwin, Jacksonville Beach or Neptune Beach. This role will be filled by someone from Atlantic Beach initially and then it will alternate among the remaining municipalities.
- One representative of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
- One representative of the Jacksonville chapter of the NAACP.
- One representative of the Foundation for Duval Schools.
- One representative of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.
- One representative of the City of Jacksonville’s Citizen Planning Advisory Committee (CPAC). The role will be filled initially by someone from District 2, and then it will alternate between District 6, District 5, District 3, District 4, and District 1.
- One representative of the City of Jacksonville’s Joint Planning Committee.
- One representative of the Jacksonville Civic Council.
- One representative of Duval Teachers United, a teachers union.
- One representative of the Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police.
- Seven representatives appointed by each of the Duval County School Board’s seven members.
- One non-voting representative, either the superintendent or someone of her choosing.
- One non-voting representative appointed by the District Student Government Association.