Clay County’s schools are in need of repairs. Old, outdated classrooms, inadequate science labs, leaking roofs, air conditioners that constantly break down, portables crowding out playgrounds, students eating lunch at 10:00 in the morning—the evidence is everywhere. With the majority of schools at 50 years or older, more than $318 million in facility renovations has been identified as needed right now as well as an additional $300 million in new schools to meet anticipated growth in the next 5-10 years.
Our students need schools that are safe, updated, comfortable and promote learning. That’s why ED.F.I.R.S.T. Half-Cent for Schools will be on the ballot in November 2020. It’s a restricted use half cent sales tax that would raise money to revitalize local schools and can only be used for capital improvement projects listed in the referendum. That means renovating and remodeling classrooms, science labs, media centers and other spaces; replacing and repairing deteriorating roofs, air conditioners and other items; replacing portables with permanent classrooms; and other improvements to our existing schools.
Clay County District Schools has become a preferred district. Funding is needed to build new schools due to expected growth in student enrollment over the next decade. Doing so will also relieve potential overcrowding in schools. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that we have safe, updated, and high-quality learning environments for all Clay County District School students!
Why a Half Cent Sales Tax?
Decision-makers in Tallahassee have cut facilities funding to local schools by more than $168 million during the last ten years. Due to these cuts, the district hasn’t been able to do much more than put a very small bandage on the problem. The half-cent sales tax is the only option available to Florida school districts for raising the amount of money needed to revitalize existing schools, relieve overcrowding, and properly maintain facilities over the long run.
More than twenty Florida districts already have a voter approved sales tax for facilities. If it’s approved here, the half cent would raise the existing sales tax in Clay County to 7.5 cents. The half-cent would cost the average Clay County family about $5 PER $1000 SPENT — to ensure Clay County is relevant, prepared for expected growth, and has updated facilities to benefit our students, neighborhoods, and county for years to come!
Safety and Security
Most of our schools were designed and built long before security became such an important consideration. The district has made many safety related improvements such as fencing, gates, locked doors, cameras and other items; however, more needs to be done including limiting access to our campuses. That will take a lot more resources than we have available and certainly much more than the state has provided. In fact, Safe Schools funding from the state wasn’t even enough to cover the cost of having a full-time school resource officer/deputy in every school! That’s why safety and security improvements are at the top of the Half-Cent for Schools ballot language. We want to ensure that teachers and students can focus on their primary mission—teaching and learning!