Jacksonville, Florida — Early voting begins in Jacksonville on Monday, and voters will have the chance to vote yes on a property tax increase to help give teachers better pay. The Campaign to Keep Duval’s Best Teachers is comprised of the Duval County School Board and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Together, they have a referendum to give teachers better salaries.
According to the campaign, there’s a teacher shortage in Florida with more than 500 vacancies to fill and the teachers that are working are struggling to make ends meet.
Chair of Duval County School Board, Daryl Willie tells the story of one teacher he’s spoken to.
“In fact, just this past week I had a conversation with a teacher who’s getting ready to start her ninth year in one of our high schools. She talked about a summer job she had to take on, and then she talked about the paycheck she’s waiting on from that Summer job to make ends meet. She said, ‘I love what I do. I don’t wanna leave my heart in the classroom. I just don’t know if I can afford to stay.’,” Willie says.
Should voters choose to accept the One-Mill Campaign, the mission is to give Duval teachers a $5,000 raise. This will be accomplished by raising the property tax for homeowners by one millage. That means that homeowners will pay one dollar per every thousand dollars of their home’s cost, annually. For example, a 300-thousand dollar home will be taxed an extra $300 per year.
Willie says, “the One-Mill for teachers will raise about 82 million dollars annually, and 75 percent will go to compensate teachers and staff.” He adds, “I want to assure you that none of this money will go to board members like me, the superintendent, or cabinet-level executive administrators.”
The remaining 25 percent is split in half between funding arts, music, and athletic programs, as well as, funding for charter schools. The one-millage increase is designed to raise salaries specifically for experienced teachers, who earn slightly more than new teachers. The campaign’s goal is to encourage the retention of experienced teachers and provide incentives for newer teachers to fill the hundreds of jobs available.
“This is our best chance to show our appreciation and respect for the teachers and our community,” Willie says. “This is what they want and deserve, more than anything else.”
According to the campaign’s press release, the referendum on the ballot reads as follows:
DUVAL COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT
AD VALOREM MILLAGE ELECTION
Shall the Duval County School District levy an ad valorem operating millage of 1-mill annually to attract and retain high-quality teachers and staff through additional compensation, enhance art, music and athletic programs, and provide proportionate funding for charter schools, in order to continue and sustain improvements in the quality of Duval County’s school system.
__YES, for additional millage
__NO, against additional millage
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