Duval School Board Talks Funding Dilemma With City Council

Nov 14, 2017

The Duval County School Board and Jacksonville City Council had a joint meeting Tuesday.

Much of it focused on the school district’s money woes — particularly when it comes to state funding for capital improvement projects like building new schools and fixing old ones.

Duval County Public Schools' Superintendent of Operations Don Nelson told City Council that two needed schools in the Oceanway and Mandarin areas would cost $40 million. Money that’s just not there.

The district has about a $128 million backlog of major and minor maintenance projects.

Related: New Ed Law To Rerout $17M From Duval Schools To Charters Over 5 Years (7/24/17)

“For instance, if you’re talking roofing, we have about $12 million needed [for] roofing and we have about $2 million budgeted this year for that,” Nelson said.

Board members also explained that a new law, HB 7069, requires the district to share capital improvement funds with privately managed charter schools.

“We estimated that if everything remained constant, and the number of charter schools stayed constant, which we know is going to continue to grow, but if it stayed constant over a five year period we will have given $16 million to charter schools out of our capital budget,” board member Becki Couch said.

Board members also told council members the district is taxing the maximum it’s allowed to by the state for capital outlay funding.

Councilwoman Joyce Morgan wanted to know if there’s something the city could help with.

“Is there already a maintenance plan that you have ready to go with dollars attached to it that you would like to present to council or is there a priority list of what you need?” she asked.

Board members said they'd provide that information. 

In the meantime, the school district is suing over the new education law in hopes it’s found unconstitutional. It’s also preparing to ask the legislature for more freedom over the rates it can tax.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.