The Jacksonville political establishment is determined to prove it wants to fund local schools at long last, with momentum building for a November sales tax referendum to fund capital needs.
The latest evidence was the announcement of a $200,000 matching grant from Wayne Weaver and Delores Barr Weaver, former owners of the local National Football League franchise.
“Wayne and I believe in the value of public education, and we believe in Jacksonville,” said Mrs. Weaver. “Great cities have great schools. But frankly, we’ve failed our children by not providing safe, secure, and modern schools where they can learn and prepare for their futures. It’s time we do better for our children, our parents, and our teachers.
The Duval Citizens for Better Schools political committee, chaired by School Board member Warren Jones, has already banked $222,000. If the committee raises $200,000 in addition to the Weaver cash, they are in prime position to message without any real institutionalized resistance.
There is a second committee in play also.
The Venice-based Together for All Our Students political committee, chaired by Eric Roberson, looks likely to offer its own messaging in the push.
Roberson is known to political watchers as the treasurer for numerous GOP political committees, including, but not limited to, those related to Mayor Lenny Curry and various politicians and causes in the second-term Republican’s orbit.
Curry, who helped to spearhead resistance to the push in 2019 until the state Legislature approved “per-pupil sharing” of proceeds between charter schools and traditional public schools, is on board this time around.
Mayor Lenny Curry offered an ironclad endorsement in April and reiterated that on Twitter Wednesday, as part of a series of ameliorating tweets seemingly designed to dampen tensions in the protest-rocked city.
“As we organize and and put together the needed resources, I am looking forward to us securing the revenue needed to invest in every school in every neighborhood,” Curry said.
The Jacksonville City Council allowed the matter onto the November 2020 ballot, even as members fretted over worries that the school board and its allies may not be able to convince voters to authorize a new 1/2 cent tax.