Referendum passed. Now what?

Half-cent sales tax passed. Now what?

Dec. 14, 2020 – Duval County Public Schools is taking the first steps toward the implementation of its master facilities plan.

In November, Duval County voters approved the half-penny for schools by 67 percent. The half-penny surtax will fund the plan over 15 years. Since the vote, the district has begun processes to have services such as project management and design in place once revenue begins flowing next year.

Here are five things happening now.

  1. The citizens oversight committee is being appointed and organized. Plans are underway for initial meetings to begin in January.  This district will provide reports and detailed updates on plans, progress, and spending to ensure funds are used as promised. Membership of the group is set in School Board Policy 9.66, which you can find here.  The full list of individuals serving on the committee will be announced in January prior to the first meeting.
  2. A project management firm will be selected to oversee the early projects as the school district ramps up its own personnel to manage the construction internally. The district’s facilities team has requested proposals. After the proposals are evaluated, the district will make a recommendation for the School Board’s approval in early 2021.
  3. A prototype design for Rutledge Pearson Elementary is underway. Rutledge Pearson is scheduled for a new school on the same site as the current facility, located in Northwest Jacksonville. The new school will receive students from three separate schools being consolidated into a larger, brand new facility with an estimated cost of $28 million. The school is named for Rutledge Pearson, an educator and civil rights activist.
  4. Prototype designs are also underway for safety and security improvements. The design plans will include safety and security measures specifically designed for elementary, middle, and high schools. Within three years, safety and security upgrades will be made to every school building.
  5. The half-penny will take effect in January. The first revenues will arrive in February or March. The district’s finance and bond counsel team are currently exploring the best timing for a bond issue, which will allow the district to borrow against the guaranteed revenue of the half-penny over 15 years. A bond issue will provide funds to allow the district to start building and improving schools at a faster pace.

The district will also launch a new website in early 2021 to track all the projects and finances associating with the voter approved half-penny.  Stay tuned to www.TeamDuval.org for further updates.