Duval school board explores increasing property taxes to improve teacher pay, bolster programs

Duval county school board superintendent Dr. Diana Greene will speak with parents and teachers during a meeting at Landmark Middle school.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board on Tuesday discussed the possibility of asking voters for a one-mill increase in property taxes to help increase teacher pay and improve arts and athletic programs for students, according to the school district.

The proposal was recommended by Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.

The board is still deciding whether to move forward with the proposal, but if it does, it will need to decide when to put it on the ballot and then forward a resolution to the Jacksonville City Council, the district said.

Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond on Tuesday evening shared a letter he received from Greene about the idea and criticized the proposal.

“ANOTHER attempt to raise taxes on the hardworking people of Jacksonville. This has to stop,” Diamond tweeted. “Government is full of waste, fraud, and abuse. Let’s try and live within our means? Wasn’t the sales tax increase enough, @DuvalSchools?”

Greene recommended that funds from the one mill also be used to enhance art programs, noting the half-penny sales tax that was passed by voters in 2020 can only be used for facility maintenance, safety upgrades, repairs and renovation. Under state law, public charter schools would receive a proportionate share of funds raised through the one-mill tax, based upon enrollment, Greene said.

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At the workshop Tuesday morning, Greene focused on the national and local teacher shortage and said other districts have passed similar measures. She reported that the number of district teaching vacancies hovers around 400 positions, leaving many classrooms supported by substitutes, administrators, or teachers forced to double up in responsibilities.

The board is expected to continue discussions at its March 1 board meeting.

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