I will vote yes on the referendum in November 2020 because the neighborhood schools need the renovations.
I am still angry at the city council members who didn’t let us vote on this referendum in 2019. If we had voted on this in 2019, then the renovations could be happening now (2020) while the kids are out of school due to Covid-19 pandemic. (ref 1)
I am voting yes on the sales tax referendum because
- Most of the sales tax money generated by the referendum will go towards renovating old neighborhood school buildings and building new facilities up to code to replace temporary structures housing overflow. (ref 3)
- The state legislature has decreased funding for many years which has prevented the school board from doing these renovations. This dedicated revenue source is needed
- The increase in the sales tax is small. If I spend $3,000 on taxable items per year, then I will pay into the fund $15 per year. $3,000 times .005 equals $15.
I do have questions about the effect of HB 7097 (which was signed into law by the Governor and requires part of the discretionary sales tax to be given to charter schools). I have written (but have not heard back) my state representatives asking these questions:
1. What claw back provisions are part of Florida statutes that will allow the school district to get the money back in the event the charter school should close?
2. Does the sales tax collected have to be given to a charter school every year based on its prior year enrollment? What are the rules on how that charter school can spend the money?
3. If the state legislature rescinds the bad part of HB 7097 in a future legislative session, will Duval County still be bound by the sharing rule since that’s what we’ll be voting on?
I am angry at the state representatives who voted yes on HB 7097 because that bill included wording which forces us to give part of our sales tax money to private investors who own buildings housing charter schools.
If we had been allowed to vote on the referendum in 2019, we would not have to adhere to the sharing rule forced on us by HB 7097 which only applies to referendums approved in November 2020 and after. Everyone knew that was coming based on the make up of our current state legislature so most of us think that is why the city council wouldn’t let us vote on the referendum in 2019. I am mad about that also.
What exactly will be on our Jacksonville November 2020 ballot? (ref 5)
I hope that something similar to this will be included in the referendum that appears on our ballot:
The school board intends that the public interest be protected by preventing the financial enrichment of owners, operators, managers, and other affiliated parties of charter schools receiving capital outlay funding. Therefore, a charter school additionally is not eligible for a funding allocation unless the chair of the governing board and the chief administrative officer of the charter school annually certify under oath that the funds will be used solely and exclusively for constructing, renovating, or improving charter school facilities that are owned by a school district, a political subdivision of the state, a municipality, a Florida College System institution, or a state university.
I assume the sales tax money can’t be used to build new charter schools since only charter schools with enrollment get a percentage but I haven’t been able to confirm that.
Ref 1 You can find the names of the city council members who stopped us from being able to vote on the referendum at this link:
Ref 2 I read this article but it didn’t answer my questions:
Ref 3 Article about portable class rooms:
Ref 4 Information about HB 7097 including who voted yes
Ref 5 Duval County School District website about the referendum
Ref 6 This is what will be on our November 3, 2020 ballot:
School Capital Outlay Sales Surtax to Improve Safety and the Learning Environment
To upgrade aging schools through repairs and modernization, to keep schools safe and to continue to promote a conducive learning environment, to improve technology, and to replace existing or build new schools, and share with charter schools for their allowable uses, shall the Duval County School Board be authorized to levy a 15-year half-cent sales surtax, with expenditures based upon the Surtax Capital Outlay Plan, and monitored by an independent citizens committee?
____ For the Half-Cent Tax
____ Against the Half-Cent Tax