“We’re just really glad to be at this point” City Council introduces DCPS half-cent sales tax bill

Paving the way to repair schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tonight, City Council President Scott Wilson is expected to introduce a bill proposing a half-cent sales tax that would help students in Duval County get one step closer to better learning conditions.

Duval County Public Schools are the oldest in the state.

After tonight, the proposal could go to a council vote as soon as March 24.

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After covering more than a year of the back-and-forth with the City, DCPS told Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole the department is glad to get to this point.

“Communities throughout the state of Florida every year past revenue sources like this, and we’re very hopeful that Duval will as well,” said Dr. Tracy Pierce, spokesman for Duval County Public Schools.

Pierce told Cole they’re glad to have Mayor Lenny Curry’s support as well.

Now, if the half-cent sales tax makes it to the ballot in November and it is approved by voters, let’s take a closer look at how the money would be spent in the seven districts here in Duval.

"I think it’s unfair to our babies. I think they deserve the best,” said Natasha Williams, who graduated from Raines High School in 1991.

Now she’s the assistant principal, and she says not much has changed.

"It pretty much looks the same,” Williams told Action News Jax.

And feels the same.

"The [A/C] units are still the same. I can remember when we went to school and the units would go out,” said Williams.

She took Action News Jax through the halls to show us why district leaders say this half-cent sales tax is needed.

"The bathrooms haven't changed, the A/C units haven’t changed, and the structure of the building is consistently declining,” Williams said.

Declining to a point where even some of the locker rooms aren’t usable.

"Our kids try to do their best to push through, but I think it’s hard,” Williams told Action News Jax.

The Duval County School District has already mapped out how the money would be spent: in three phases over 15 years.

"First and foremost, this is about safety and security. So that safety and security work will start almost immediately once we start receiving revenue,” said Dr. Pierce.

That would be followed by working to remove more than 400 portables, and construction and consolidation.

The revenue would be split among all seven districts.

Districts 4 & 5 would both get more than $100 million.

The school district also told Cole that there would be an oversight committee dedicated to making sure the money is spent properly.