JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Duval County’s District 6 school board seat represents much of Jacksonville’s westernmost end.
Running for the seat is incumbent Charlotte Joyce. She’s a former teacher and magnet coordinator. She recently became a grandmother.
Also on the ballot is PTA leader and former accountant Tanya Hardaker, who is a mother to seven children -- both biological and adopted -- all enrolled in Duval County Public Schools.
VOTER’S GUIDE: Duval County School Board, District 6
Whoever the voters choose will immediately have to address how to handle one of the district’s more pressing issues -- a shortage of more than 400 teachers and hundreds more support staff. A measure on the same ballot as this race would raise property taxes to pay for an increase in teacher salaries.
Hardaker said she supports the measure as a means of keeping pay competitive.
“So we not only want to pay our teachers a living wage, but we also want to encourage our teachers with our language, with our rhetoric, with our support, and I think that if we vote the millage rate, I think that’s a way to show our teachers, we appreciate you,” Hardaker said.
Joyce on the other hand said she doesn’t believe the millage rate increase is the right way to increase salaries.
“I voted against the millage increase, and I did that because, at the end of the day, this has not been bargained,” Joyce said.
“I just thought it would be fair to the taxpayer to know how much your teacher is going to get from the millage increase,” she added.
Whether the millage rate increase passes or not, both candidates say they want to support teachers in the classroom.
“I would say that it’s going to be vital that we support teachers in the classroom, that when they are having issues with students discipline-wise, that we put behavior interventionists in those schools to help support those teachers,” Joyce said. “I think that’s gonna go a long way in getting teachers to stay in the system.”
Hardaker said a bigger problem teachers are dealing with is political battles being dragged into the hallways and classrooms of schools across the state. Places, she said, which had been largely shielded from ugly partisan battles.
“People are calling our teachers terrible things,” Hardaker said. “Our teachers are not there to indoctrinate anybody. They’re there to teach. They’re teaching reading and writing. They barely have time to do that and to do it well. So we not only want to pay our teachers a living wage, but we also want to encourage our teachers with our language, with our rhetoric, with our support.”
One of the most potent controversies is the recent state law that limits how conversations about gender identity and sexual orientation are talked about in schools.
Editorial note: An earlier version of this story cited Joyce’s experience as a former substitute teacher. Her experience was that of a former teacher. The current version of the story reflects this change.