Keeping students safe: Here’s how DCPS is spending money from half-cent sales tax

Here’s how your half-penny has been used to date

The half-cent sales tax has scooped up 163-million dollars since it was levied in January 2021.That's according to the most recent update in June. And roughly 65-million of that is already earmarked for school security upgrades.

DUVAL COUNTY, Fla. – With Duval County residents being asked to support another type of tax increase, this one to improve teacher pay, News4JAX is looking into what the school district has been doing with money from its last tax increase.

In November 2020, voters approved a half-cent sales tax, which started in January 2021. Among other things – the money goes toward safety and security, building upgrades and renovations for Duval County schools across the city.

According to the most recent update in June, that half-cent tax has already collected a six-figure sum -- scooping up $163 million since it was levied in January. Roughly $65 million of that is already earmarked for school security upgrades and infrastructure projects.

Voters approved the half-cent sales tax on the November 2020 ballot with the intention of replacing or refurbishing Duval County’s aging school buildings – but also bolstering security at its nearly 200 campuses. So far, 42 of those projects are already out of the design phase and ready for construction.

With Duval County residents being asked to support another type of tax increase, this one to improve teacher pay, News4JAX is looking into what the school district has been doing with money from its last tax increase.

Related: DCPS ahead of schedule on revenue collected from half-cent sales tax | Online dashboard will allow residents to track Duval school’s half-cent tax revenue

By the end of the year, the district says projects at 46 other schools will be underway.

Progress is ahead of schedule, and because of that, the district is now starting on the project designs that weren’t supposed to begin until next year. Each school has its own specific needs and its own specific budget.

A whopping $1.2 million is budgeted for security upgrades at Atlantic Coast High School. Just over $38,000 is heading to Neptune Beach Elementary for the same reason.

The security updates include:

  • Lighting and landscaping improvements for better visibility
  • ID-controlled door access systems
  • Upgrading door locks
  • Installing extra layers of window film

In total, the district has spent just over three million dollars of the collected tax revenue so far – specifically on those security upgrades. It’s because those projects are being prioritized first and the goal is to have all those safety upgrades done in the first five years of the 15-year tax.


About the Author:

Joe covers education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributor to the News4Jax I-team and Trust Index coverage.