Any future referendums that will raise sales tax rates to benefit public schools should also benefit the area’s charter schools. This is something that was proposed in language that a Jacksonville lawmaker wants to have added to the tax package in 2020. Representative Jason Fischer is a second-term Republican. He’s prioritized education reforms, and this includes having all school tax referenda in the future to share tax proceeds equitably between the area’s traditional and charter schools. Unfortunately, “equitably” is a subjective matter. This is something that was seen in 2019 when there was a push to pass a tax referendum for the Duval County Public Schools that failed.
Why 2019’s Referendum Failed
In 2019 the school board truly desired to have the city council pass a referendum. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. The reason for the failed referendum in 2019 was that many of the council members were in agreement with their Mayor, Lenny Curry who found many holes in the district’s case. As such, they voted to refuse to ratify the referendum in a timely fashion.
Introducing the new Referendum
Fischer has made his new proposal for this upcoming tax package with the knowledge that the governor is very sympathetic when it comes to charter schools’ mission statements. Nevertheless, it may still serve as a sticking point for some voters even though the School Board has already approved it and it merely needs to be placed on the ballot and put before the county’s voters. Most of the voters in Duval County (approximately 74% according to the University of North Florida’s research) say that they’re in support of a half-cent sales tax that’s to be used for school capital improvements. There is also another proposal that was shepherded by Fischer to start the process to elect a school superintendent for the Duval County schools, something that was only 70% supported by voters. This is because many of the area’s residents believe that Fischer is trying to undermine the traditional school structure as we know it today.
What Voters are Saying
Recently a bipartisan 6-2 vote was taken. This will allow the legislative delegation in Duval County to advance the bill which may eventually lead to there being an election for a school superintendent. The bill simply needs to pass a local vote in November 2020 and then there’d be an elected superintendent instead of having one appointed – something that’s taken place for decades. The election for this position would then occur in November 2022. Whether all of this will pass the Senate is still unclear, especially since Democrat Audrey Gibson is in strong opposition to such a bill.
Clearly there’s a lot happening in the Duval County school system today. This is something that the Education Resource Partners are staying on top of. They also offer room space planning consultations and installations. This is something that any school anywhere will be able to greatly benefit from. So, if you’re interested in any of these services, make sure you reach out to them and set up an appointment today.
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