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Struggling Duval County teachers share stories to raise awareness ahead of millage vote

Voters will have the choice to increase property taxes to help raise teacher salaries.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Duval County Public School district is trying to get the attention of voters ahead of the August primary.

A property tax increase that will pay teachers a little more for the work they do is on the ballot.

The district took to social media this week to share the stories of several teachers who had to make the difficult choice to leave the district because they weren't making enough.

With tears in her eyes, former First Coast High School teacher Kayla Solon recalls the day she informed her students she...

Posted by Duval County Public Schools on Monday, June 27, 2022

As hard as it was losing those teachers, the district wants Duval County voters to give the teachers they still have a reason to stay.

*"It's awesome, but it also doesn't pay my bills," said Former First Coast High Teacher Kayla Solon.

Duval County Public Schools shared an emotional interview with Solon, who had to quit teaching due to a lack of pay.

The district shared the video, to make sure voters are aware of an issue coming their way in a few months.

"It's difficult to share those stories, but it's more difficult to be in the operation while those stories are occurring," said District Spokesperson Tracy Pierce. "Through the pandemic, we've seen a tremendous uptick in teachers leaving the profession."

The district has more than teacher vacancies at the moment.

Voters can agree to a 1 Mil increase, which will cost a $300,000 property owner $300 per year.

That's expected to raise $82 million in the next four years, with $60 million of that going directly to boosting salaries.

"All of it is going to stay right here with our district, our staff and our teachers," said Pierce.

This has become a state wide issue - Orange, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough and Leon counties have joined Duval in asking for a millage increase.

Which means if it isn't approved here, teachers may have a reason to look elsewhere.

"We do need it to be competitive," said Pierce. "Whether we're competing with surrounding counties to keep our teachers or industry. We have to elevate the profession."

All to keep teachers like Solon from stepping away from a job they love.

"You know the impact you're making because they tell you," said Solon.

The one mil increase will be on Duval voter's primary ballots on August 23.

Terrie Brady from the teacher's union says it should be easy to interpret, and the union is looking for a "yes" vote.

RELATED: Growing Pains: Explaining the teacher shortage in St. Johns County

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis announces $800 million toward increased teacher pay

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