Education advocates reacted to the news by saying they'll support the sales tax.
As a research-driven independent nonprofit working to close the opportunity gap in Duval County, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund applauds the Jacksonville City Council’s decision tonight to let voters decide on a half-penny sales tax for public schools.
“This is a long-awaited historic moment in Duval County,” said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “Our students need 21st century schools, and our independent research has shown that 78.5 percent of Duval County residents support a small tax increase to provide better school buildings. We hope that our community will vote YES to give our children the education they deserve.”
Education advocates who have participated in JPEF leadership initiatives also applauded the vote.
Latrice Carmichael, an education advocate whom JPEF supports through Parents Who Lead, is concerned about the facility of the school her son attends – the Young Men’s and Women’s Leadership Academy at Eugene Butler Middle School. She said the coronavirus pandemic is highlighting the important role of our public schools.
“Students should not be expected to learn in conditions that we as adults would not want to work in. The past month has reminded everyone not only of the importance of education, but even more so the importance of what occurs inside schools. However, many of the District’s schools are very old and simply not conducive for learning. Issues like inadequate air conditioning units, water leaks, pests and other problems are concerning. We cannot continue to mask the problems with quick fixes. We have the best students, educators and school leadership right here in Jacksonville, and it is shameful that our buildings are what is keeping us from being even better. All of our schools should have properly functioning facilities, and that means equitable assistance for schools in need, no matter the zip code. We cannot claim that Jacksonville is a great place to raise kids while neglecting them while they are in school. I support the half-cent sales tax increase and will be voting for it when it appears on the ballot.”
Teachers are also supporting the sales tax, including Leena Hall-Young, 2020 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year. Ms. Hall-Young teaches Language Arts at Raines High School, one of the schools that would be replaced on-site with a new school under the district’s master plan.
“William M. Raines is historically know as the million dollar building that brought a state of the art facility and programs to the surrounding community. It is nearly impossible to continue this legacy of greatness with crumbling structures, faulty ventilation, and a building that is beyond its expiration date! We must move forward with the times, and this means not only providing a building that is warm, safe, and dry but also providing educational programs that prepare our students to be competitive in today's job market.”
More information about JPEF’s polling data on taxes for education is available at jaxpef.org/vote.