• Continuing coverage: No date set for half-cent sales tax on ballot

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - We’re nearly one full week into the new school year.

    On Wednesday, after a highly-anticipated joint meeting between the Duval County School Board and Jacksonville City Council to discuss the half-cent sales tax referendum, the two groups still  have not managed to come to a consensus.



    Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole attended the meeting and spoke to a parent who believes action has to be taken sooner…rather than later.

    “I think the key issue we're having to address is a plan that is building-centric and not student-centric,” said Councilwoman Randy DeFoor of District 14.

    “I can not understand why we can not have a timeline to know which schools are going in which fiscal years,” said Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber of District 5.

    Three months...and a number of meetings later...City Council and the Duval County School Board still can't agree on how to fix aging schools.

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    On Wednesday, the two governing bodies had their first joint discussion.

    But Tiffany Clark, a parent, says now it’s time to take it a step further.

    "I'll be honest...we've said it all, we've done it all...we've come to out city council meetings. They need to act,” Clark told Cole.

    Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene broke down the district's plans, but still didn't seem to convince some council members. 

    “We're not going to stop addressing the facility needs of our schools because we're at a stand still. We're going to keep moving forward,” said Superintendent Greene.

    But Clark told Cole she thinks it's the parents job to help make this happen, too.

    "I think oftentimes, individuals often assume that as parents we really really...we're too busy working. ‘This is not our fight’--this is totally our fight! This is about our children, our children's children. Our neighbors children,” Clark said.

    One thing that had almost everyone talking during this joint discussion was charter schools—and how the half-cent sales talk would play a part in their funding.

    "I think partnership is what will be necessary going forward,” said Dr. Jennifer Brown.

    Brown is the Executive Director of Kipp Jacksonville Schools

    When Dr. Brown says partnership –she means she wants to see Duval County charter schools included more extensively in the plan... to use proposed  half-cent sales tax money.

    "The plan though inherently assumes that charters and traditional district schools began on equal funding and footing— and that is simply not the case,” said Dr. Brown.

    Charter schools would get some money from the half cent sales tax for safety and security upgrades. 

    Scott Wilson, the city council president says, based on his research he sees a trend that includes more charter schools in Duval County.

    Superintendent Greene stands firm that traditional schools come first.

    “Our facilities, the traditional public schools, are much older than the charter schools and therefore we are applying the funding to their needs,” said Dr. Greene.

    She said the plan could change in the future to accommodate charters.

    “To not address that in this plan feels like a slight to the 16,000 charter school families in this county. I think that there is a way forward,” Dr. Green said.

    The half-cent sales tax referendum will go to city and back to council to be voted up or down next Tuesday.

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