Updated: Jun 16
The leadership team of the local chapter of the National Organization for Women encourages voters to vote YES on the school board's referendum in August. We need the dedicated revenue source for our neighborhood and magnet schools.
There was a ZOOM presentation June 14th that can be viewed here along with JPEF’s research on teacher compensation. There is also a Facebook Live video of the forum that we encourage you to share with your friends and family. The school district has frequently asked questions and answers about the referendum that can be found here.
Please remember early voting begins August 8th. The last day to vote is August 23rd. Link to early voting sites in Jacksonville:
To check to make sure your voting status is accurate: https://www.duvalelections.com/Voter-Information/Register-to-Vote-Update-Address-Name-Party/Voter-Status#status
Each year the legislature and the governor set the school district’s millage rate in the state budget. That millage rate (aka revenue for the school district) between 2010 and 2021decreased from 5.346 mills to 3.56 mills.
The Florida statutes allow voters to approve a dedicated revenue source for our public schools. Emily Bloch started her April 2022 TU article with these words "Duval County voters will get to decide if they want a property tax increase to benefit schools later this year." However, is it really a tax increase? It appears to me that it is actually an opportunity for the voters to say that we want a dedicated revenue source to benefit the schools. I wish I had more opportunities to say how I want my tax money spent.
The city council has the ability to reduce the millage rate for the monies that they and the Mayor get to spend. According to a April 2022 TU article, City Council member Danny Becton filed such legislation. In other words, it is up to the city council whether they want this referendum to mean a reapportionment or a tax increase.
We need the dedicated revenue source for our neighborhood and magnet schools since the state legislature reduced the millage for school districts from 5.346 mills to 3.56 mills from 2010 to 2021.
State law requires that if we want to have a dedicated revenue source for our district-run schools, then we must give a portion of it to charter schools based on a per student formula. However, the state legislature has tied the hands of the school district so they can not require the charter schools to use the money in any particular way. Unless the state legislators pass a law strengthening the regulations for monies going to charter schools, charter schools can use their portion of the funding to increase their payments to management companies. Parents of a child at a charter school should NOT think that their school will be getting art/music/athletic programs based on the ballot language. If a parent doesn't approve of the way the charter school is spending the money, then they need to transfer their child to a neighborhood or magnet school before October when the FTE count is taken. The money will be distributed to charter schools based on the FTE count using a per student formula. Currently (according to the Duval Public Schools website) 12% of Duval's public (as defined as district-run + charter) school students go to charter schools so those schools will get 12% of the money. I'm not a fan of charter schools and I wish parents would quit sending their kids to charter schools BUT that isn't going to stop me from voting yes on the school board's referendum for a dedicated revenue source for our neighborhood and magnet schools.
Education chair for the Jacksonville chapter of the National Organization for Women
References in case you need them:
Ref (1) There was a ZOOM presentation June 14th called Referendum Forum!
In case you missed part of it or want to review it again, there is a link to the recording here along with JPEF’s research on teacher compensation. There is also a Facebook Live video of the forum that we encourage you to share with your friends and family. The school district has frequently asked questions about the referendum. You can find that here.
Referendum Ballot Language
Shall the Duval County School District levy an ad valorem operating millage of 1 mill annually to attract and retain high-quality teachers and staff through additional compensation, enhance art, music and athletic programs, and provide proportionate funding for charter schools, in order to continue and sustain improvements in the quality of Duval County’s school system.
___ YES, for additional millage
___ NO, against additional millage
Ref (2) https://dcps.duvalschools.org/vote <==school district facts
3.5600 the state levied for schools in Duval County in 2021
Ref (4) I referenced these articles
Ref (5) The League of Women Voters-Jacksonville chapter also recommends a yes vote on the referendum. Link to their statement.
Ref (6) It was HB 7123, passed in the 2019 legislative session, that forces the school district to include charter schools on a per student basis when they want to raise money using property taxes for the neighborhood and magnet schools.
Excerpts from the bill beginning on line 452:
... Funds levied under this subsection shall be shared with charter schools based on each charter school's proportionate share of the district's total unweighted full-time equivalent student enrollment and used in a manner consistent with the purposes of the levy. [Note that I asked the school district if they have any way to force the charter schools to spend the money a certain way and they answered "no"]
Excerpt from this article: Current law allows for four types of millage levies to fund schools. Taxes collected through three of those avenues — the required local effort (RLE) levy, the current operating discretionary millage levy and the ad valorem millage for capital outlay — must be shared with charter schools.
Ref (7) This is about HB 7069 which passed in 2017
THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT JOB VACANCIES
"We’re not the only ones trying to hire right now. You try to attract a good pool.” — Isabel Mascareñas, Pinellas County Schools spokesperson (story) "It used to be that you had four or five applicants that you had to choose from. Now it's sort of the other way around, and the applicants have four or five schools to choose from." — Cathy Reynolds, Palm Beach County schools human resources partner (story) "I think we're going to be behind the eight ball for the entire year, to be honest." — Kelly Horncastle, Hillsborough County school transportation training supervisor (story)