CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — With a vote of 3-2 on Thursday night, the Clay County School Board voted in favor a half-cent sales tax referendum in a special election.
The district provided Action News Jax pictures of sunbeaten doors, rusting HVAC units and dilapidated school running tracks.
According to a school board spokesperson, the proposal must first pass Clay County’s Board of County Commissioners before the supervisor of elections can put the measure on the ballot in a special election.
The school district must also be audited by the State’s Office Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), and the findings must be posted to the district’s website for 60 days.
The spokesperson tells us a special election could happen as soon as October, and the district would pay its associated costs of about $180,000.
Board members in favor of the measure say this is the reality of many Clay County schools, and that’s why they decided to support of a half-cent sales tax referendum.
The district’s trying to raise about $318 million to fix aging schools that are falling into disrepair, and about $300 million to build five to seven new schools in the next 10 years. The board anticipates 6,600 new students in that time as the county’s population grows.
If the measure’s approved by voters in a special election, the district anticipates about $400 million will be generated over a 30-year period.
Some say it would be money well spent.
“Education is so important, and kids in a lot of like lower income areas, don’t have access to good education,” said Page Thorne, who lives in Clay County.
Others like Ken Willey, a former district 18 Florida House candidate, say the board is overreaching. Wiley tells us he’s a parent in the district.
“The county’s raised taxes multiple times in the last few years, and I don’t think that we need another one,” he said.
The district says this is the best way to raise money for schools in need. Those in favor say the millage revenues will only cover about $48 million of their needs, tell us the State’s Public Education Capital Outlay funding was reduced to $0.
A district spokesperson tells Action News Jax they’re working to get more information out to voters in advance of a possible special election.
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