JACKSONVILLE, Fla — At most of the places you shop in Duval County, you're also paying a little extra towards the recently passed half-cent sales tax.
The tax benefits Duval County Public Schools and the pennies add up.
The district recently received their projection of how much revenue they'll collect monthly as a result of the tac. Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene says they estimate $7 million to $8 million dollars every month for their 15-year long school renovation plan. She says they’ll collect the money every quarter, but the work starts now using capital funds.
The Florida Department of Education gave Duval County School District a 'B' for the past five years. The district is trying to change that to an 'A'.
“The facility is a piece of that high-quality education," Greene said.
"Now we have an opportunity to close that gap in many instances for our students that they now will have that sense of pride that my community does value my education because they’re investing in my education.”
Greene says all 130,000 of her students deserve an equal and quality education no matter the zip code. Research shows the environment where your child learns can affect how well they learn.
There are many studies on it, some even suggesting that the environment can affect a student’s academic progress by 25 percent. School board Chair Elizabeth Andersen agrees.
“I think when you walk into a building and it is fresh ait is well lit and the air quality is good and the acoustics are good, there is something deeper that happens that a child might not notice but deeply impacts the quality of the experience that they have," Andersen said.
Each school has a different plan – some need renovations, some need to be rebuilt.
The first projects will focus on security and safety updates. Dozens of schools are on the priority project list you can read here.
Greene says in 15 years, we’ll have 28 new schools in the district and every school will be up to 21st-century standards.
“It is really about ensuring that all of our students no matter their ethnicity, their gender, or their zip code have the right to have access to a high-quality education," Greene said.
Andersen is not only a part of the leadership team but her child goes to school in the district. For her, this is personal.
“Being a parent that walks into the building and being able to see this space that is well designed for 21st-century learning and to have (my son) experience the pieces that might even be intangible that will enhance his education, is something that I am really excited for," Andersen said.
They want transparency with the process, considering millions of dollars will be at play here. That’s where the Citizen Oversight Committee comes in. Their first meeting is next week
The committee was recently formed with seven members appointed by the school board and 14 community members.
You can see the list of committee members here.