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Duval County, Fla., voters approve sales tax that will bring in $1.9 billion for school facility upgrades

Nov. 5, 2020
The Duval County Public Schools master plan calls for building 19 elementary schools and 3 high schools in the next 15 years.

With more than 67 percent in favor, voters in Duval County, Fla., have approved a sales tax that will provide $1.9 billion for maintenance and new technology in Duval County Public Schools.

The Florida Times-Union reports that with 94 percent of precincts reporting, 312,956 Duval County voters were in favor of the sales tax and 151,775 voted against it.

The money collected over the next 15 years from the sales tax referendum will pay for new construction — including 19 new elementary schools, three new high schools — security and technology enhancements, and repairs to faulty air conditioners and leaky roofs districtwide.

The process to get the sales tax proposal on the ballot stalled in the Jacksonville City Council last year and led the School Board to sue the city. 

The court battle centered on whether the school district had the right to place the tax on ballots without City Council getting involved.

By February of this year, the groups settled the suit, and City Council approved the ballot proposal.

According to the district, Duval County Public Schools has $384 million in deferred maintenance. Officials say the cost to maintain the school buildings — which are among the oldest in Florida — continues to grow. 

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