Monday, July 25

Should I Support the Duval County Public Schools Referendum Version 2022?

Even though my kids were attending a private school when the last referendum for Duval Schools came a begging, I voted for it because the schools were in need of maintenance and improvements. However, two years later and now two kids in a Duval County school, I have seen ZERO facilities upgrades. My kids' school has $24 million to spend, but this was the second summer in a row without a single brick being laid for the $12 million new classrooms to get my kids out of portables. I'm not sure if I can vote for the new referendum if the district can't spend the money it currently has to make schools better.

Here's what DCPS says the new money will provide: 
"65% of the revenue would be used to supplement teacher pay, 12.5% would be used for arts and athletic programs at public schools, 12.5% would go to charter schools, and 10% would go to pay increases for district staff."

To me, it looks like a total of 75% will go to teacher or staff pay/raises. I taught in the district for a year, and I'd say it's deserved, but as a parent with two kids in core classes illegally stuffed to the gills, I'd rather see more core teachers than more pay for gym teachers. If the referendum would guarantee reduced core class sizes, I'd vote yes and maybe even work in the district again.

I'm all for arts and athletics. However, I'd again ask if that means more teams and student participation or just new art tables and uniforms. My daughter just missed making a JV team last year for a sport that cut more than a dozen freshmen and could have had a freshman team. Maybe 12.5% more money would have made that team possible, but I don't know. 

I can unequivocally say that I can't support 12.5% of my extra tax burden to fund charter schools. These schools compete for students and funding while rewarding suspect for-profit companies that mostly prove that pilfering a district's best students results in good schools.

So there you have my opinion on the 2022 DCPS tax referendum. If I knew it supported core teachers, more sports participation, and better public schools, I'd vote yes in a heartbeat. I'd like to say I trust DCPS to spend millions of dollars wisely, but the lack of transparency in how or when the last referendum money is being spent leads me to believe this money may be better off in my own pocket.

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