JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board is poised to discuss an official proposal to ask voters for a one-mill increase to the county’s property tax rate in order to fund salary increases for teachers and reduce the record number of vacant staffing positions.
“The national teacher shortage is resulting in an alarming vacancy rate for certified teachers and support staff,” the proposal said. “Additional funding is needed to increase teacher and staff compensation to recruit and retain a highly qualified workforce.”
Duval Schools is facing a historic shortage of teachers and staff with more than 1,000 positions currently unfilled, and more than 400 of those are teaching jobs.
Duval Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said the district has just been limping along using administrators and support staff as substitutes.
She also said some kids haven’t had a fully-certified teacher in their classroom all year.
But, she says the solution is simple, the district must hire more staff.
“The governor was very gracious over the last few years of increasing beginning teacher salaries, but those dollars did not go towards veteran teachers. Our data shows us that experience matters,” Greene said. “We’re experiencing the largest teacher shortage this school district has ever had. It’s not just Duval, it’s happening around the state of Florida.”
The proposal also would provide money for arts and athletics programs, which currently have “no specific funding source” in the district.
Currently, the millage rate that is specifically earmarked for Duval County Public Schools is 5.8080, meaning that for every $1,000 of a home’s taxable value, the owner is sending roughly $5.81. The proposal being discussed in Tuesday night’s DCPS board meeting would see that rate raised to 6.8080.
There have been 20 other Florida school districts that have chosen to raise millage rates in recent years.
The increase would generate an estimated $81.8 million each year and would expire, unless extended, after four years.
“If approved, the revenue will not be used to increase compensation for the School Board members, the Superintendent or executive-level (senior Cabinet) positions in the district office,” the proposal said.