Councilman Shellenberg said JEA would be glad to chip in, something I am sure nobody has told JEA about.
There are several reasons that Curry and a few council members have given for not supporting the special tax referendum designed to help our resource starved and crumbling schools and all of them are between terrible and disingenuous.
The first one is that a special election in November would have a small turnout. Well friends if they really cared about turnout they wouldn’t have just had city elections so close to the midterms, when only about a quarter of the eligible voters did so. Curry who only got about 15 percent of the city’s vote and several council persons undoubtedly benefitted from a low turnout which makes them suddenly caring about a low turnout seem self-serving. I submit that everyone who cares about the tax referendum, one way or another, will vote.
Curry and Bowman have complained about the cost of the special election which may be as much as a million dollars. Well friends DCPS has said they would cover the cost. Now it is true that is tax payer money but it’s just a fraction of what the district says it spends on additional maintenance each year. The district is spending 500k a month on maintenance which would be six million if the district was forced to wait another year, another year in which important projects would also go unfilled and our buildings would deteriorate even more. Wouldn’t it be smart to spend one million to save six million? I think so but Curry and others apparently don’t.
Next Curry says that there isn’t a fully formulated plan. Well friends I guess he should tell that to the plan that has been on the DCPS web-site for about two months now. Now is it the final plan? Probably not but it’s much farther along than they plan the city has presented for the landing, and there the city has already spent 15 million dollars. How can Curry with a straight face ask for a plan, ignore that they do have plan while after spending millions propose no plan for the landing. My grandmother would call that chutzpah but I call it hypocrisy.
Councilman Schellenberg has complained that the city hasn’t had enough input. I guess the dozen plus meetings, some of which he was invited to attend but couldn’t be bothered to do so, and dozen plus more than the city has had about the landing, and the survey that was on the DCPS web-site weren’t good enough for him. Though the truth is I don’t believe anything would be good enough. He is the guy who always finds and excuse even as you can see from above the excuses are made up.
Then some including the Times Union’s editorial board, say DCPS should sell the school board building, which is paid for and costs them nothing, before they should get any additional money. I imagine at this point DCPS would love to sell it, but doing so at a loss which is what they would have to do would be irresponsible. Selling the DCPS building is a canard that people looking for excuses use that isn’t based in reality. Where is Shad Kahn, or Wayne Weaver, or Peter Rummel or Preston Haskel, how come none of them have stepped up? My bet is because they know there isn’t money to be made there.
Since none of their reasons make sense, there is a tremendous need for additional revenue and I think we can all admit that both Tallahassee and city hall haven’t done what’s right, we should ask ourselves why there is such resistance from the powers-that be. I believe it’s because they want our public schools, where I will add most of our children go to, too struggle and fail.
Curry is on record saying he prefers charter schools over public schools and his actions while in office, siphoning public money to his super donor Gary Chartrand’s charter school by changing the rules at the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, and vetoing a referendum passed by the city council asking the state board of education not to raise algebra cut scores. Combine that with council president Bowman appointing several pro charter school members to charter commission review commission, and we have the leadership of the city actively working against our public schools which I find reprehensible.
The long and short of it is many republicans especially those in the political class would like to replace public schools with for profit charters (many of those owners donate to those same politicians) and schools that take vouchers, both of which generally have a revolving door of uncertified teachers. It doesn’t matter to them that the public would be investing in privately owned properties, that they have little or no oversight or there is no real evidence that says they do better. They just won’t admit this to the public because they know it would be unpopular and hard to defend. Which makes them cowards as well as disingenuous.
Our schools have serious issues that we need to be addressed and if Tallahassee and city hall aren’t going to do what is right then at the very least the citizens of Jacksonville should be given the opportunity to do so.