Nassau School Board backs proposed tax increase amid teacher shortage
Image via Nassau County School District.

The district is short a combined 133 teachers and support staff.

Nassau County residents will likely have a chance to decide whether to levy a 1 mill property tax increase in order to augment revenue to the county’s underfunded and understaffed school district.

The Nassau County School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to put the question on the ballot. It now goes to the County Commission before moving into the hands of the Supervisor of Elections. 

“I’ve had the pleasure of sitting here for the past two terms, and I’ve watched this district save, cut, do more with less, and it’s everywhere,” Board member Jamie Deonas said. “It not just affects teachers, it affects everybody for our district.”

If approved, the millage increase should provide Nassau County schools with an additional $11.5 million over four years. At that point, it would either sunset or need reapproval.

Superintendent Kathy Burns related a story from a school district leader in a neighboring county.

“One of their Board members made the statement that this is an opportunity to recoup part of the millage and the rollback that’s happened to our school districts for almost eight to 10 years — I think 10 years now, that that’s happened,” Burns said.

As the Board seeks the money to be able to recruit and retain teachers in an extremely tight labor market, that’s only part of the issue. The district needs 38 new teachers, though that’s down from 101 earlier. The district also needs another 95 support staff, including 37 bus drivers. At the same time, the Board is looking to buy what land it can when it can.

Board Chairwoman Donna Martin has heard people complaining about the district’s moves to purchase land while compensation for staff is notably lacking.

“Those are two separate budgets,” Martin said. “The money we’re using to buy property is for capital — we cannot use that to pay our teachers more. We’re not permitted. And why are we buying land? Because if you look around this county, it’s growing, and we’re not going to make more land. So if we don’t buy land when we can, where are we going to educate these students moving to Nassau County?

“It’s not that we don’t want to pay them more, and it’s not that we don’t want to find it, but we have done everything we can to find it, and we simply cannot transfer monies from capital to pay teachers more.”

She also noted the Board can’t do anything to halt the rapid development that’s putting such pressure on the school district.

“Just for the record, because I believe there’s some misconception out there — we can’t tell them they can’t build homes,” Martin said.

“That’s not our job. What this is doing, our schools do not have the capacity. It’s like collecting the impact fee ahead of time, instead of until after the houses are sold, so that we can bank that money and when the need comes for facilities, we will have it ahead of time. We can’t stop the growth. We can only try to make it the best we can to provide an education for our students.”

Wes Wolfe

Wes Wolfe is a reporter who's worked for newspapers across the South, winning press association awards for his work in Georgia and the Carolinas. He lives in Jacksonville and previously covered state politics, environmental issues and courts for the News-Leader in Fernandina Beach. You can reach Wes at [email protected] and @WesWolfeFP. Facebook:


  • Yeah

    June 11, 2022 at 9:48 am

    Flip the house 300 percentage pay property taxes so we can give raises…. badly structured. Solutions to we need more money’s

  • Deborah Jones

    June 12, 2022 at 11:28 am

    Yes raise property taxes on an already hurting economy. People who have no children in the school system should not have to pay! Take a page from other states and charge those who have children in the system.

  • Yeah

    June 12, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    All good teachers should go north they pay state taxes for you. Plus a whole new sociaty moving there

  • Yeah

    June 12, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    Rthesr new commers are turning flag upsidedown with the bagage

  • enough already

    June 18, 2022 at 2:46 am

    NO NEW TAXES!!!!!!!

Comments are closed.


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