November 2020 Referendum

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:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190827/city-council-rebuffs-school-boards-request-for-sales-tax-referendum

Ref 2 I read this article but it didn’t answer my questions:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20200414/schools-tax-referendum-will-be-on-november-ballot

Ref 3  Article about portable class rooms:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190614/duval-schools-superintendent-wants-to-eliminate-portable-classrooms

Ref 4 Information about HB 7097 including who voted yes
https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2020/7097

Ref 5 Duval County School District website about the referendum
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

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
Copied from:
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/post/what-would-happen-if-voters-do-not-approve-the-half-penny-sales-tax-for-education

Charter Schools

Why is the current state legislature passing unfunded mandates that the district run schools must follow but other publicly funded schools don’t have to follow?

1002.33 Charter schools

(16) EXEMPTION FROM STATUTES
(a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:

1003.42 seems to indicate that charter schools don’t have to follow these rules:

(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules of the State Board of Education and the district school board, shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy, following the prescribed courses of study, and employing approved methods of instruction, the following:

Talking points to oppose HB 1079

Great summary of last week’s committee meeting;
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20200122/bill-for-elected-duval-schools-superintendent-advances-in-legislature

HB 1079 is being heard: Tuesday, January 28, 2020 3:30 PM  in room 102 House Building


I think we should first say a short description of why we’re here. This is what I’ll say:
My father was in the Navy.  I went to public schools all over the United States of America.  My daughter and I graduated from Jacksonville public high schools. I feel very grateful for my public education and for my daughter’s public education. That is why I am here today.


Option one
I think the best way to have the most qualified superintendent is for the school board to interview, hire, and fire (if needed) the top administrator of the school district.

Just as the JEA board (a Jacksonville board currently appointed by our mayor) hires the top administrator, the school board needs to continue to hire the top administrator. Incompetent or unethical administrators can be removed immediately as the JEA board did with the JEA top administrator Aaron Zahn. Perhaps the board removed Zahn due to local public outcry, but still the point is that it was possible to immediately remove him. It is more difficult to remove elected officials.

The local city council can put things on our ballot. As a matter of fact, they are contemplating putting something on our ballot to change the way the JEA board is appointed.  I hope that will be on our ballot soon, but it might not make it onto our ballot until November 2020.

The point is that we’ll have lots of things on our November 2020 ballot without this horrible attack on home rule being added to my city’s ballot by the state legislature.

HB 1079 is in violation of the local bill manual which says local bills should not be used if the purpose can be accomplished at the local level.  Things can be put on our city’s ballot by the city council, the school board, and by citizen initiatives.

Senator Gibson and Representative Davis of the Duval Delegation voted no on J-1. I thank them for their no vote.  The required economic impact statement completed by Jason Fischer and the OGC should have included the cost of educating the voting public about the issue. Democracy only works when the voters understand the ramifications of their vote. We do not want taxpayer dollars and energy wasted on unnecessary ballot proposals and campaigns.


Option two

Our elected school board members are elected specifically to represent the public interest in our education system. The voters have given them the authority to make decisions specifically about our school district. The school board passed a resolution opposing J-1 (HB 1079).

Under our County Charter we have the authority in our jurisdiction to make the change suggested by HB 1079 if it is ever desired.  However there is not now, nor has there ever been community outcry for this bill or its intent.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option 3

HB 1079 is in violation of the local bill manual which says local bills should not be used if the purpose can be accomplished at the local level.  Things can be put on our city’s ballot by the city council, the school board, and by citizen initiatives.

Our school board plans to put on our Jacksonville ballot in November 2020 an item that will allow us to raise funds to renovate or replace district owned school buildings that have lasted over 50 years.  As you may know, school districts all over Florida have passed these referendums because the state has cut funding for capital outlay funding going to district owned school buildings.

In addition to the school board’s referendum on our November 2020 ballot, state citizen initiatives will be on our ballot.

As an aside: Please don’t vote yes on any of the bills before the current legislature that will make it harder to get citizen initiatives on the ballot. Citizen initiatives with huge support are a great way for the people’s voices to be heard.

Three initiative campaigns have, thus far, qualified to go before voters in November’s general election – Florida For A Fair Wage’s “Fight For $15”; an “open” primary proposal for state Legislature, Governor and Cabinet; and a constitutional amendment stipulating “only,” rather than “any,” U.S. citizen can legally vote. Two other prospective amendments still vying to meet the signature requirements by Feb. 1 – Ban All Assault Weapons’ and Make it Legal Florida—may also be on our ballot.

The point is that we’ll have lots of things on our November 2020 ballot without this horrible attack on home rule being added to my city’s ballot by the state legislature.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option four
I want our elected school board to continue to be able to conduct a nationwide search for a qualified superintendent with the academic credentials, skills and experience necessary to run a large school district. (128,000 PLUS STUDENTS, 14,000 EDUCATORS AND STAFF).

If Representative Fischer brings up the UNF poll in his closing arguments as he did in last week’s committee meeting, I hope you will do your own research on it. As Mike Binder, director of the Public Opinion Research Lab, mentioned in an article, the question was poorly worded and could have misled respondents. Plus the poll only included about 600 people that answered their phones.

Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.


Option 5

I hope Representative Fischer will let us know in his closing arguments who in the Duval Delegation voted yes on the amendment to HB 1079. Amendments to Duval local bills have to be approved by the majority of the Duval Delegation before the amendment can be presented to the state legislative committee according to the local bills manual.

 Without approval of the amendment, HB 1079 was in violation of Florida’s Constitution Article IX Section 5. The fact that the amendment was needed to bring HB 1079 into compliance with Florida’s Constitution was a clear sign the bill wasn’t properly vetted and I thought it may have caused some on the Duval Delegation who originally voted yes on J-1 (Clay Yarborough, Aaron Bean, Cord Byrd, Wyman Duggan, and Kimberly Daniels) to withdraw their support for HB 1079 and vote no on the amendment.

 Please vote no on HB 1079. This local bill is a horrible attack on home rule.

Please tell the city council to put the school board’s referendum on our ballot

I hope the city council will monitor the lawsuits brought by the school board and the parents of crumbling schools to determine if Jason Gabriel gave them bad advice. If the city council will signal to the school board that they’ll put the school board’s referendum on our ballot, I assume the school board will resubmit it to the city council.  Judge Wilkinson’s comments as quoted in a TU article:

Wilkinson said the school district has its own taxing authority and School Board. “Isn’t that a major division?” he asked. “Even the charter says its a separate body.” … “Which brings us back to the start of this,” Wilkinson said, arguing that just because School Board officers qualify as county officers doesn’t mean they’re subject to city control.

People elected the school board specifically to improve and monitor the public school system. The legislature nor the city council were elected with such a pin-pointed goal. Why do the city council and the legislature keep trying to usurp the authority of the elected school board?

Below are comments about Fischer’s J-1 bills. I would think the city council would be worried about this also. Does the Duval Delegation want to usurp the authority of the elected city council?

As of now, the below email outlines the gist of what I plan to say on November 1st at the Duval Delegation meeting which is:

Article VIII Section 6(e) says that Section 9 is no longer valid since consolidated Jacksonville has a charter. And that means that both versions of Jason Fischer’s J-1 bills have no authority. In order words, the Duval Legislative Delegation doesn’t have the authority to request that the state legislature change our city’s charter or put items on our city’s ballot. I have asked repeatedly what gives Jason Fischer the idea that he can ask the state legislature to put things on our city’s ballot or change our city’s charter. The only thing I have been told is that it is Article VIII Section 9. But Article VIII Section 9 is no longer valid since we have a charter.

I understand most people at the Duval Delegation meeting will be making the point that keeping the Superintendent appointed by the elected school board is best for our city. I agree with that premise,

However, I think the main danger of both versions of Fischer’s J-1 bill is that he thinks he can get the state legislature to change our charter and that Jacksonville is unique in that way.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Susan
Date: Sun, Oct 27, 2019 at 10:32 AM
Subject: Please answer my simple question: Do you know what parts of Article VIII were changed in 2018?
To: <gibson.audrey@flsenate.gov>, <bean.aaron@flsenate.gov>, <tracie.davis@myfloridahouse.gov>, Daniels, Kimberly <kimberly.daniels@myfloridahouse.gov>, <cord.byrd@myfloridahouse.gov>, <clay.yarborough@myfloridahouse.gov>, <wyman.duggan@myfloridahouse.gov>, Voellmecke, Lenae <lvoellmecke@coj.net>

Do you know what parts of Article VIII were changed in 2018?
I googled and found this:

Senate Joint Resolution 5-2X proposed a new Article VIII, relating to local government … Revision No. 5, 2018, filed with the Secretary of State May 9, 2018; adopted 2018.

This is how Article VIII Section 6 begins

SECTION 6. Schedule to Article VIII.—
(a) This article shall replace all of Article VIII of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, except those sections expressly retained and made a part of this article by reference.

This is how 6(e) reads now:

(e) CONSOLIDATION AND HOME RULE. Article VIII, Sections 19, 210, 311 and 424, of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, shall remain in full force and effect as to each county affected, as if this article had not been adopted, until that county shall expressly adopt a charter or home rule plan pursuant to this article. All provisions of the Metropolitan Dade County Home Rule Charter, heretofore or hereafter adopted by the electors of Dade County pursuant to 3Article VIII, Section 11, of the Constitution of 1885, as amended, shall be valid, and any amendments to such charter shall be valid; provided that the said provisions of such charter and the said amendments thereto are authorized under said 3Article VIII, Section 11, of the Constitution of 1885, as amended.

I continue to posit that Article VIII Section 6(e) says that Section 9 is no longer valid since consolidated Jacksonville has a charter. And that means that both versions of Jason Fischer’s J-1 bills have no authority. In order words, I posit that the Duval Legislative Delegation doesn’t have the authority to request that the state legislature change our city’s charter or put items on our city’s ballot. If I’m wrong, please tell me why. I have asked repeatedly what gives Jason Fischer the idea that he can ask the state legislature to put things on our city’s ballot or change our city’s charter. The only thing I have been told is that it is Article VIII Section 9. But Article VIII Section 9 is no longer valid since we have a charter. If I’m wrong, please tell me why.

Thank you,
Susan Aertker

A Rally in Support of Public Schools

Rally begins 8 am on September 20th. I will have posters to share. Bring your own or borrow one of my posters.

Details at this link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/protest-rally-fl-board-of-education-meeting-in-duval-stop-harming-public-schools-tickets-7210080444

 I will have 5 choices to share with people who didn’t bring their own poster:

1. If the rules aren’t necessary, why make any school follow them? If they are necessary, why are you exempting charter schools and private schools that receive voucher money?

2. Place a lien on property receiving public funds so the money can be recouped if the charter school closes.

3. Money is what made a difference in Jefferson County. Don’t starve our neighborhood schools

4. Support SB 56: A 2020 non-discrimination bill

5. Florida Statute 1003.42 (g) should apply to all publicly funded schools including private schools receiving voucher money.

Extra information about the posters.

Poster 2:
Florida Statute 1002.33 says “district school board property,” but what if the building and land are owned by private investors even though the public funded the purchase? We need legislation that says that any private investor, receiving funds to build or renovate privately owned buildings, must agree to a lien on the property so the school district can recoup the tax money in the event the charter school closes and/or the property is sold.
Even a supporter of charter schools has called for claw back provisions. A caller asks around minute 28 in the podcast at the below link: “What will happen to the profits if the building and land are sold?” Mr. Chartrand dodges the question, but Ms. Miller says there should be claw back provisions. Also please listen starting at minute 42 when the interviewer questions Chartrand’s dedication to quality education based on his actions when he was chair of Florida’s Board of Education.
https://news.wjct.org/post/81919-democrats-call-investigation-mayors-office-jax-civic-council-cole-pepper

Poster 3:
Quote from this article:
What’s obscured in the misleading narrative, though, is that Somerset’s new charter schools in Jefferson County have had millions of dollars more to work with than what was previously available to the traditional public school district there.
https://chartered.wlrn.org/millions-difference-somerset-charters/

Poster 4:
Florida Senator Darryl Rouson introduced SB 56 for the 2020 legislative session. The bill will add the following language to the Florida statutes (f.s.):
A private school participating in an educational scholarship program … may not deny enrollment to a student based on the student’s race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;

Poster 5:
Excerpts from Florida Statute 1003.42 Required instruction.—

(1) Each district school board shall provide all courses required …
(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools … shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy …
(g) The history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity,to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.

public education

Tell your state representative to support SB 56

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it doesn’t want private schools to discriminate against minority groups, but it has no legal basis to deny those schools voucher money. ref 1

Florida Senator Darryl Rouson introduced SB 56 for the 2020 legislative session. The bill will add the following language to the Florida statutes (f.s.):

A private school participating in an educational scholarship program … may not deny enrollment to a student based on the student’s race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity;

I hope this strong statement in Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran’s letter  ( ref ​2)  means he will be supportive of Senator Rouson’s bill:

For my part, I intend to exercise all avenues afforded to me through Florida statutes and rules to investigate and act. I will swiftly, and to the limits of my office and resources, investigate and prosecute any individuals who threaten the equity and cultural sensitivity of the educational experience of our public schools.

The term “public schools” as was used in the Florida Education Commissioner’s letter has become blurred with the proliferation of taxpayer money funding charter schools and private schools. Going forward, we need to make clear which regulations only our neighborhood schools need to follow and which regulations apply to all schools receiving public money either directly or indirectly via the tax credit scheme.

In addition to urging your legislator and the Education Commissioner to support SB 56, please also urge them to require Florida Statute 1003.42 (g) to apply to any school receiving public funds. Florida Statute 1003.42(g) requires the teaching of a course that will lead to an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society.

Also please urge your legislator to introduce legislation that will make clear that freedom of religion laws don’t give one person priority in legal disputes in a way that harms another.

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-ne-gay-students-voucher-schools-eskamani-20190812-w53wqlfdp5fyvpcw5bfaruvqla-story.html

Ref 1 https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/editorials/os-op-florida-vouchers-disciminate-gay-students-20190706-3qbgvqro6jcd7of6hf4c4b3eim-story.html

Ref  2 http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/35/urlt/HolocaustLetter-July2019.pdf

Ref 3 https://www.adl.org/blog/empowering-educators-to-discuss-hard-topics

Ref 4 http://www.flholocausteducationtaskforce.org/classroom-resources/

Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more:

https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/

Spread the word: Tell the City Council to #Let the People Vote

The website ourduvalschools.org will answer a lot of people’s questions.

All publicly funded schools (except private schools receiving taxpayer money via vouchers authorized by the state legislators) will receive the referendum’s dedicated revenue source to be used as follows:

  • Renovations, repairs, or rebuild based on age and condition of the taxpayer owned building.
  • Enhanced safety and security based on a per-square-foot formula.
  • Replace portable buildings with permanent safer buildings.

Here is why I don’t simply use the term “public schools.” In days gone by, “public schools” meant only the neighborhood schools. Now some people include charter schools in the definition.  (ref 1) Governor DeSantis recently included private schools, funded by vouchers, when he used the term “public schools.”

I applaud Council Member Carlucci  for being a leader and urging his colleagues to do the right thing and let the people vote. (ref 3) I believe the people will vote to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. My belief is not without evidence, a poll said 83% of the people would vote yes on the referendum. (Ref 2)

Here is the link to a radio interview with Chartrand and Miller. I post this interview because Chartrand and Miller are part of a group called Civic Council. They say on this interview that they know the neighborhood schools need money for repairs. However, Chartrand is complaining that the school board hasn’t given more money to a charter school that he has money invested in. A caller asks around minute 28: “What will happen to the profits if the building and land, that house the charter school, that you’ve invested in should be sold?” Notice that both Chartrand and Miller dodge the question. Also please listen starting at minute 42 when Melissa Ross questions Chartrand’s dedication to quality education. The point is:  be careful if you hear them criticizing the school board’s plan.
https://news.wjct.org/post/81919-democrats-call-investigation-mayors-office-jax-civic-council-cole-pepper

Quote from an article stating that when the budget was finalized the neighborhood schools got zero PECO funding:

The final budget deal for PECO projects includes the $158 million lawmakers earmarked for charter school building maintenance and repairs, $76 million for higher-education construction projects, and $1.5 million in recurring funds to the Department of Education to develop a two-year workforce program that would assist individuals aged 22 or older to get a high school diploma and career technical skills.

ref 1 http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/

ref 2   83% (.49 +.34) support the sales tax increase . That’s amazing!  The sales tax increase will be $1.50 per month (if you spend $3,600 a year on taxable items per year) in order to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/unf-poll-voters-support-half-cent-sales-tax-to-benefit-schools

Ref 3 Matt Carlucci on First Coast Connect https://news.wjct.org/post/72219-councilman-matt-carlucci-if-you-want-make-god-laugh-cole-pepper

As far as questions about which schools will be closed, renovated, or rebuilt; you can find the details and the reasoning at “see the plan” at this link:
https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

The School District’s Superintendent has answered the city council members’ questions. You can read the Superintendent’s answers  within the article at this link:
https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190731/school-board-answers-city-councils-laundry-list-of-referendum-questions

City Council Committee meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jTDGdiAfI0

Urge City Council President Scott Wilson to Call a Special Meeting to Ask the City Council to Let the People Vote

Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Elections, was quoted in a news article (ref 6) as saying he could get the school board’s referendum on a 2019 ballot if the Jacksonville City Council would let him know by August. Time is running out for 2019. Please urge the city council to let the people vote in 2019.

The state legislature has steadily been reducing their capital outlay funding to the school districts. Most counties have, therefore, passed referendums giving their school districts a dedicated revenue source for capital outlay. Duval County needs to do it in 2019 so the repairs and security enhancements can begin in 2020. The repairs are needed now. Ref 7

All publicly funded schools (except private schools receiving taxpayer money via vouchers authorized by the state legislators) will receive the referendum’s dedicated revenue source to be used as follows:

  1. Renovations, repairs, or rebuild based on age and condition of the taxpayer owned building.
  2. Enhanced safety and security based on a per-student and per-square-foot formula.
  3. Replace portable buildings with permanent safer buildings.

Here is why I don’t simply use the term “public schools.” In days gone by, “public schools” meant only the neighborhood schools. Now some people include charter schools in the definition. Charter schools are getting a great deal of money from our local, state and federal policy makers, but there are barely any safeguards to protect the taxpayers’ interest. But that’s an issue for another article. (ref 19) Governor DeSantis recently included private schools, funded by vouchers, when he used the term “public schools.”

I feel passionate about the school board’s referendum because I am grateful for my public education. I want kids to have the same or better opportunities than I had. Don’t we all want the best for the kids in our community? My dad was in the Navy so I went to a number of public schools throughout the country. The local neighborhood school is part of my utopian vision of liberty and justice for all.

When I was listening to City Council Member Matt Carlucci on the July 22 episode of First Coast Connect (ref 1), I was thinking of the The Andy Griffith Show. One of the public schools I attended was on a navy base. The kids in the school were a variety of colors even in 1965. So when I think of The Andy Griffith Show, I don’t think of a community of all white people. I think of a community of people all trying to get along, all trying to be polite, all wanting the best for all the children of the community. Matt Carlucci was polite and cordial as he spoke of the need to make all our schools great for all the children of our community.

I applaud Council Member Carlucci, a Republican, for being a leader and urging his colleagues to do the right thing and let the people vote. I believe the people will vote to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. My belief is not without evidence, a poll said 83% of the people would vote yes on the referendum. Ref 5

I find it sad that some on the city council are putting up roadblocks to getting the school buildings repaired. For example, some city council members asked questions, at the city council meetings, they could have asked months ago when the community meetings were announced by the school board. To his credit, City Council President Scott Wilson finally asked all the city council members to send their questions to OGC who would compile them and forward the questions to the Superintendent and the School Board. The Times Union put the list in the cloud for all, who cared, to read.  Ref 3

Some of the questions on the list don’t appear to be in good faith. For example, one of the council members asks about all the lawsuits that have been brought due to desegregation. If the council member’s goal is to alert the public to the past and present misdeeds of elected government officials, then wouldn’t it be better for her to write an op-ed piece? I don’t see how her question is relevant to the school board’s referendum. Couldn’t her staff do the research about those lawsuits? Why ask the school board to do the research?

Some of the questions on the list indicate many city council members want charter schools to take a more prominent role in the education of our children. The charter school movement was begun as a way to allow teachers to experiment with various teaching methods that, if proven successful, could be later used in the neighborhood schools. But the charter school movement has changed since its humble beginnings. Can’t we make all the neighborhood schools great? Can’t various choices (vocational, college-prep, teaching styles, etc) be incorporated into the neighborhood schools? Duplicate education systems, charter school and the neighborhood schools, are more expensive. Ref 10 I know some parents love the charter school where their children attend, but we need to increase the safeguards against abuse (financial and lack of educational standards) before we let charter schools increase in number. Also, what will happen to the neighborhood schools if the taxpayers are unwilling to fund a duplicate parallel system? Isn’t it better to increase the choices within the neighborhood school?

Please google “profits in the charter school industry.” Ref 17 I hope that will make you outraged and cause you to question the desire of some city leaders who are holding the school board’s referendum hostage, demanding the school board change their referendum to “promise charter schools an upfront $150 million payment.” Ref 11

A concerned citizen, David, at a July 16th city council committee meeting, spoke during the audience comment period of his experience as a young boy in Alabama. Tears come to my eyes as I recall him repeating his mother’s words: “That is not equal.”  My vision (and apparently David’s) is for all the schools to be superb, with the goal being for all the kids to have a chance at great opportunities in life. Why won’t some on the city council allow the voters to give the school board the revenue stream to do what I believe they want to do, i.e. make all our schools great?

One of City Council Member Cumber’s questions (on the list) is relevant only if she doesn’t plan to let the people vote in November 2019. ref 4 A November 2019 date would be preferable, but if the city council won’t vote in time, then the December date would be the next best alternative. For the repairs to begin in 2020, the referendum needs to be approved by the voters in 2019.

Another one of Council Member Cumber’s questions was about the city’s credit rating, which is pertinent to a bond issue not a dedicated revenue source. Can the city council control the school board’s bond requests? If yes, then that is when she should be asking her questions about the effect on the city’s credit rating. ref 8

 The School District’s Superintendent has answered the city council members’ questions (on the list) including Council Member Cumber’s questions about the city’s credit rating. You can read the Superintendent’s answers at this link.  Ref 9

As far as questions about which schools will be closed, renovated, or rebuilt; you can find the details and the reasoning at “see the plan” at this link:  https://www.ourduvalschools.org/

Anyone can ask questions of our elected officials, but many of the questions on the city council’s list weren’t relevant to the desire to get a dedicated revenue stream for the repair and increased safety of our neighborhood schools. Some of the questions on the list make the city council member look like they want to be part of the elected school board. The voters elected the school board members and it is frustrating the city council is trying to stop the school board from doing what they were elected to do.

The city council should let the voters vote on the school board’s referendum on the November 2019 ballot as requested. The city council needs to act NOW for Mike Hogan, Duval Supervisor of Election, to do his part.

 

 

Ref 1 Matt Carlucci on First Coast Connect https://news.wjct.org/post/72219-councilman-matt-carlucci-if-you-want-make-god-laugh-cole-pepper

Ref 2 Matt Carlucci speaking at July 16th City Council Committee meeting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jTDGdiAfI0

Ref 3 The list of city council members’ questions that they sent to the school board

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6219594-2019-380-Council-Member-Questions.html

Ref 4  Florida Statute Title 14, Chap. 212.054 (7)(a)

The governing body of any county levying a discretionary sales surtax or the school board of any county levying the school capital outlay surtax authorized by s. 212.055(6) shall notify the department within 10 days after final adoption by ordinance or referendum of an imposition, termination, or rate change of the surtax, but no later than November 16 prior to the effective date. …

Ref 5  83% (.49 +.34) support the sales tax increase . That’s amazing!  The sales tax increase will be $1.50 per month (if you spend $3,600 a year on taxable items per year) in order to give the school board a dedicated revenue stream to repair the schools. https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/duval-county/unf-poll-voters-support-half-cent-sales-tax-to-benefit-schools

Ref 6 https://www.news4jax.com/news/local/jacksonville/all-sides-met-on-duval-county-school-sales-tax-issue

ref 7 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190531/nate-monroe-text-messages-detail-daily-breakdowns-needed-repairs-in-duval-schools

ref 8 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190719/nate-monroe-schools-dont-hurt-city-credit-ratings-city-leaders-do

ref 9  https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190731/school-board-answers-city-councils-laundry-list-of-referendum-questions

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/6228491-City-Council-Response-073119.html

https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A8d9325bc-73cf-49bd-9d01-b7351e5408bf

ref 10 You can google this and get other articles that back up my statement

https://gadflyonthewallblog.com/2019/06/15/charter-schools-will-always-waste-money-because-they-duplicate-services/

ref 11 https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20190730/is-150-million-payment-to-charters-needed-to-pass-duval-schools-tax-referendum

ref 12 This is what will be on our OFFICIAL BALLOT if the city council will let us vote:

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, 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

ref 13 Quote from below link:

Around the state, even in some heavily conservative counties, voters are opening their wallets to lend extra support to their schools. Of 10 local education funding measures on the Aug. 28 ballot, every single one passed.  …  For some, the widening effort suggests the public may be warming to the argument that Florida schools need better funding. … “The citizens recognize that the Florida public schools are the backbone of our future,” said Andrea Messina, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, “They want to invest in quality schools. If we let our educational system and our facilities decay, that will have a negative impact on Florida’s economy and on the citizens of Florida.”

https://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/More-Florida-counties-are-voting-to-raise-local-taxes-for-schools-Is-it-a-message-to-lawmakers-_171522390

ref 14 If you read the article at ref 11, don’t get tripped up like I did. Florida Coalition of School Board Members is a pro-charter and pro-voucher and organization that does NOT represent the majority of school board members. Here is more about them:  https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/11/26/whither-the-florida-school-board-members-coalition/

ref 15 Go to this link: https://www.ourduvalschools.org/see-the-plans for details about the school board’s referendum. Scroll down to the end of that page and click on “View the original master plans.” Then scroll down and click on “Download the District 3 PDF” [or whatever school district you’re looking for] The pdf that will appear on your screen will tell you when the Community Meeting took place, and the utilization of various neighborhood schools

Ref 16 I wonder if the lawsuit mentioned in this article (http://folioweekly.com/stories/enough-is-enough,21674 ) can go fast enough to get the referendum on a 2019 ballot.

Ref 17 Google “profits, real estate, charter schools” and you’ll get many suggestions, here is one:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergreene/2018/08/13/how-to-profit-from-your-non-profit-charter-school/#304656b83354

Quoted from this article:
Two South Florida real estate investment companies, ESJ Capital Partners and MG3 Developer Group, have sold two charter school properties in Florida to their operator for a combined $45M. “[ESJ Capital Partners] has become a nationwide leader on investing in alternative assets within the educational arena, providing a bridge for charter school management organizations to eventually own the properties they operate in,” an ESJ spokesperson wrote in an email.
https://www.bisnow.com/south-florida/news/economy/florida-charter-school-real-estate-98192

Charter Schools Used Shady Real Estate Deals to Shamelessly Enrich Themselves.
Quote from an article with that title:
Preston C. Green, Bruce D. Baker and Joseph O. Oluwole said the biggest way to grab seven-figure sums in the privatized education sphere was through shady real estate transactions.
Here is the link to the paper by Preston C. Green, Bruce D. Baker and Joseph O. Oluwole:
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2924886

ref 18 Article at this link talks about a great speech by Republican Thomas Lee where he says the charter industry said they could teach kids for less, but they keep asking for more and more money.  He said “enough is enough.”
http://accountabaloney.com/index.php/2019/05/06/hb7123-is-a-bridge-too-far-and-president-lee

ref 19 http://www.integrityflorida.org/the-hidden-costs-of-charter-school-choice-privatizing-public-education-in-florida/

Folio lets people submit articles on their website and provides a link to the submission:

http://folioweekly.com/detail.html?sub_id=21695

Charter schools are publicly funded schools.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools.

Note that the below excerpt from the statute says “district school board property,” but what if the building and land are owned by private investors even though the public funded the purchase?  Are any charter schools housed in a district school board building?

Florida Statute about charter schools:
http://leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=1000-1099/1002/Sections/1002.33.html

Quotes from Florida Statute 1002.33:

In the event a charter school is dissolved or is otherwise terminated, all district school board property and improvements, furnishings, and equipment purchased with public funds shall automatically revert to full ownership by the district school board, subject to complete satisfaction of any lawful liens or encumbrances.

(a) A charter school shall operate in accordance with its charter and shall be exempt from all statutes in chapters 1000-1013. However, a charter school shall be in compliance with the following statutes in chapters 1000-1013:

Let the school board do their job

I was sickened by Mr. Diamond’s speech. Did people that voted for him understand his views? A.G. Gancarski quotes in FlaPolitics:

Diamond said “The only place I see kids getting a chance is a charter school, not a public school.”

Paraphrased from that same article:

The School Board reached out in April to begin the OPPAGA audit process. Can anyone get an answer as to why the state has delayed the process? Chairwoman Lori Hershey is wondering if the city council or mayor’s office interfered. OPPAGA has not responded to requests for comment from the journalist.

Quote from a TU article:

… it’s also impossible for the mayor’s office to provide a concrete timeline for the mayor’s entire debt-financed capital construction budget. Just as it would be impossible for the School Board to provide concrete timelines for its renovation and rebuilding plans.

Quote from TU editorial:

If City Council and the School Board need to meet for an entire day to thrash out the issues — and to answer the seemingly inexhaustible list of questions that some City Council members apparently have — then they should do it. And they should do so in time for a sales tax vote to take place this year.

Quote from TU article:

Jones said during public comments in the Rules Committee meeting that as someone who previously served 28 years on the City Council, he has seen council members engage in maneuvers to disguise the real reason for opposition. He said charter school advocates want a dedicated funding source for charter schools from the sales tax. “Over 100,000 students are by choice attending traditional public schools, but yet we are being held hostage because we won’t share $250 million off the top to charter schools for the 16,000 [charter] students when many of our students are in schools that desperately are in need of safety [improvements] and repair,”

Quote from this June article:

According to the research lab, approximately 75 percent of Duval County registered voters support the proposed sales tax. That support is reportedly the strongest among registered Democrats (86 percent) but still garnered 60 percent of the support of registered Republicans.

Link to video where CM Carlucci asks that the questions be answered quickly so that the referendum can be put on a 2019 ballot:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16cHpLLOTk8WJvwqw2MnwP0EKrbpzY1cD/view