Local

Teachers are pushing for voters to pass the one mill tax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Many teachers for Duval County Public Schools hope voters will support a measure that will bump up their pay, but it comes with a tax increase for homeowners.

Education leaders want voters to approve “the one mill tax,” which increases the annual tax bill by $1 for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. For example, a home worth $275,000 would have an extra $275 added to the tax bill. The $25,000 homestead exemption is unaffected.

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Duval educators said if the measure passes, it will raise $82 million and bump up experienced teachers’ pay by about $5,000 a year. DCPS defines an experienced teacher as one who has 10 or more years under their belt.

Of that $82 million, teachers will see a 75% increase. The other 25% will be divided equally between art and athletics, and as required by Florida law, charter schools.

“Our experience and our years that we’ve put in, if another teacher comes in, they’re using us anyway,” Jameea Jackson said. “You know they need us to guide them, help them, support them.”

City council and DCPS said they need the tax increase to keep teachers and bring in new ones. Right now they said the district is short more than 500 educators.

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“A bigger shortage of teachers, and then it’s going to impact families, their community and then you have to think about yourself. Who’s going to teach your kid?” Mikayla Thomas said.

Thursday’s rally, The Best Teacher Campaign, was to encourage voters to check “yes” on their ballot as early voting gets closer.

“The amount of money that we are making, it’s making it very hard for us to make ends meet,” Gladys Barrington said. “To purchase homes and make sure we’re able to take care and provide for our families.”

Florida educators had more reasons to pass “the one mill tax.”

Right now, Duval County ranks 58th out of 68 Florida school districts. Teacher pay also ranks low with the average salary at $47,458, which is behind seven other large urban districts in teacher pay and experience.

If passed, the property tax increase will extend four years. Early voting starts Aug. 8. Voters head to the polls Aug. 23.

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