The Jacksonville Public Education Fund released its annual public education perceptions poll.
The survey of more than 500 people was conducted in early November at the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida.
Most Duval County residents support a small increase in taxes to support public education.
That’s according to the Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s 2015 public perception poll.
According to poll results, 70 percent of people said they’d pay a slightly higher tax to support public education. JPEF President Trey Csar says in 2014 just 60 percent answered in support.
“We think that’s reflective of the conversation that was started in St. John’s County. Over the last few months they looked at a sales tax referendum,” Csar said. “Now Clay County’s talking. Districts across the state of Florida are talking.”
Those polled ranked education the second most important issue in Jacksonville, behind crime, and ahead of the economy and transportation.
Csar says the survey also shows the public’s perception of the district doesn’t exactly track with reality.
He points to graduation rate survey results. Survey takers guessed Duval County’s graduation rate was an average of 61 percent, Csar says it’s actually more like 74 percent and increasing every year.
“We’ve seen great growth over the past five or six years particularly in an indicator like graduation rate, and we see perceptions about graduation rate significantly below where reality sits,” Csar said. “The public is on the whole living in 2010, instead of living in 2015.”
Over the last couple years, ratings of ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ for Duval County Public Schools have declined in the perception survey. He says that can be challenging for the county.
“People come into our community, they’re looking at buying homes,” Csar said. “They’re looking at where to enroll their kids and in a very choice-based environment it’s important that community members and particularly parents have really high quality information at their fingertips.“
Thirty-nine percent of respondents ranked test scores and school grades as the most important factors when enrolling kids in school, compared to 46 percent last year. And more than a quarter of survey-takers say the district is making strides in the areas of parent and community engagement.