DCPS Superintendent talks on half-cent sales tax, closures of schools

DCPS Superintendent talks on half-cent sales tax, closures of schools
(Action News Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County voters will be seeing a half-cent tax referendum on their ballot this election, a move that will help regain millions of dollars of lost money for infrastructure.

The referendum is an effort to raise money to upgrade and repair schools, improve school safety, improve technology, and build new schools. Duval County Public Schools expects backlogged maintenance will cost $1 billion dollars in five years.

Dr. Diana Greene, the Superintendent of Duval County Schools, says that if the referendum does not pass, they will not be able to pay for upgrades at schools and build longer-lasting buildings.

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“It will become that we will have to be more reactive than we currently already are. And that we’ll have to just keep reacting and if it’s broken, we’ll fix it," Greene said. "But, schools that need upgrading, schools that are low population and the efficiency is not as effective, we will do consolidation. But our goal is to consolidate into new schools, not into just less older schools.”

Greene told Jacksonville’s Morning News that if the referendum does pass, they will create a citizen oversight committee that will be chosen or appointed by the school board. This committee will oversee the new funds and make sure they are being used properly.

When it comes to current schools and the pandemic, Greene says that they have been preparing for COVID-19 cases in schools since the summer. Right now Fletcher High School and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts are scheduled to open later this week. Both schools have not seen any new cases over the weekend, according to Greene.