Voters in Duval and Clay counties have decided to implement a half-cent sales tax to improve the infrastructure and safety of public schools in their counties.
The Duval referendum was passing, 67.34% to 32.66%, with 192 of 199 precincts reporting at the time of this story's publication.
The Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) district has previously estimated the tax will result in about $1.26 billion over 15 years.
The referendum approval comes after an earlier legal battle between the school district and the city. Last year the school board filed a lawsuit against the city in September for delaying the referendum.
But in the end, local leaders came together to support the measure with City Council's approving it in April to be placed on the November ballot. Mayor Lenny Curry signed the bill.
In lobbying for the tax, the district, headed by Superintendent Diana Greene, said Duval’s public schools are the oldest in the state and “desperately need basic maintenance and upgrades.” She said schools need basics like air conditioners, new roofs and floors.
The district says the tax will also allow for safety and security upgrades at every school.
DCPS also plans to remove portable structures in existing schools and replace other schools.
Clay County voters also approved a half-cent sales tax to go to public schools by 56.04% to 43.96%, with 100% of the precincts reporting.
The Clay County tax will be used exclusively for school reconstruction and renovations, new construction, and improving school facilities with safety and security improvements as well as technology upgrades.