Jacksonville teacher's tweet sparks response from mayor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Duval County teacher's tweet sparked a passionate response on both sides of the half cent sales tax issue.

It started with a tweet from Mayor Lenny Curry Sunday asking what everyone was doing.

Teacher and blogger Chris Guerrieri replied he was working on lesson plans and wondering if the air conditioning in his classroom was going to work Monday.

He pointed to a photo of the A/C unit inside his classroom at Palm Avenue Exceptional Student Center.



Curry replied, saying, "Dm me your school and your classroom and we will make sure your problem is fixed."

He added in another tweet, "If that photo is your classroom and you can't get it fixed now that speaks volume about the state of current management.  I can get that fixed now.  Please send me details."

Two lawsuits have been filed against the city for allegedly blocking the sales tax referendum to fix aging schools.

Action News Jax asked Guerrieri his reaction to Curry's response.

Curry sent another tweet telling teachers with problems to email him.

Guerrieri said via message he was surprised to get a response but thought it was a stunt.

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"I was surprised. I have commented before on his tweets and he never responded, but I thought he was disingenuous at best and it was a stunt. We have hundreds of millions in maintenance needs and he's going to fix my air conditioner? Then he expanded that to have any teacher reach out to him? I hope hundreds do and the district sends him their backlog, as well," he said.

Action News Jax asked the city if any action has been taken. A spokesperson for Curry's office said nothing yet and that they've received six emails since the Twitter exchange.

Two were from teachers.

A Fletcher High School teacher wrote:

"Hello Mayor,
The A/C units here in the D hall at Fletcher HS are very poor. They routinely malfunction and shut down for days at a time leaving conditions inside the classroom at 80 degrees + (not to mention the associated humidity.) The hallways are even warmer so they offer no reprise from the heat. My classroom, as well as neighboring classrooms, has been at 83 degrees for the majority of the day. Please make sure all units in this hallway are serviced as multiple classrooms are dealing with these issues and large numbers of students are affected. Many classes must relocate to a functioning room so they retain some semblance of a conducive learning environment. I look forward to our problems being solved expeditiously. Thank you."

A woman who works at Whitehouse Elementary wrote:

"Hello! I work at Whitehouse Elementary, and quite honestly, our list of needs is extensive.

In my own classroom, there are many cracks in the floor. It's not level, so desks and tables wobble, making writing difficult. There's no storage. The extremely old fans in the bathrooms allow wasps to fly in. I've had a student stung by a wasp in the classroom this year. I have a student who has anaphylactic responses to wasps. It's only a matter of time before he's stung. In the winter, my classroom is so cold that students have to bring in blankets and I have to bring in space heaters. Even then, it's still extremely cold on the very chilly days. The heater works fine, but the building is old, and doesn't have insulation. There is no space in my classroom to hide in the event of a code red. Our campus is all outdoors and someone could enter our school very easily. There are classroom walkways with no cover, so students get soaked on rainy days. The list could go on forever.

We do not have a playground. We share a playground with a city park. The play equipment is rusting, and parts are covered with plywood. I work the extended day program and we can't take our kids to the playground due to safety risks of sharing with other people. There's no cover, so the equipment gets so hot the kids can't play on it in the hot months.

Many of our classrooms flood anytime it rains hard. We put sandbags in front of these area, but they still flood.

I'd love for you to visit my classroom so I can discuss these needs in person."

Action News Jax also reached out to the district and school board.

The district sent this statement:

"We appreciate the Mayor's personal interest in addressing the facilities and maintenance challenges at our schools.

While his tweets offering assistance are appreciated, we've offered a bold plan to comprehensively address our facility needs and to improve safety and security at every school. The most effective approach would be to allow voters to have their voices heard. The ballot box, not Twitter, is the best way to solve the problem of Jacksonville's outdated school facilities.

Until then, we have an innovative and hardworking maintenance team that has been through all the requisite background screening to work on school campuses. Our team has proven to be very skilled at putting maintenance band aids on outdated systems. The issue is that many of these systems are well past their useful life and should be fully replaced, not just repaired. That is why our School Board's proposal for a half-penny sales tax referendum is so important to the future of our schools."