Posted March 2, 2012
School Board Half Mill Tax Vote Tuesday, March 6
There will be a special election vote on Tuesday, March 6, 2012 to increase the school board millage by one half cent. This is the only thing on the ballot, so Franklin County voters should take care to vote and consider the lack of need for this tax increase.
Franklin County only has two schools. The Consolidated school K-12 with about 900 total students in attendance and a Charter school with about 325 students. The total school budget at present is $17,961,721 or an average of $14,662 per student.
The School Board has decided the Consolidated School is getting a larger share of the available funds with a per student allocation of $16,000 per student and the Charter School getting only $10,000 per student. These amounts include operational and capital costs.
This puts students attending the Consolidated school in the top quarter of all schools in Florida for spending per child. However, the school Board does not believe that is enough funding and is stating that the additional half mill tax will be used for "to provide students with up-to-date materials and technology; recruit and retain caring, qualified educators; and increase student achievement and opportunities."
The teachers union is requesting another raise on top of the 19% cumulative raises and bonuses they’ve received over the past three years even as tax receipts recede in the face of lowered property tax assessments that fund much of the schools budget.
Franklin County teachers are better paid than almost all teachers in our area of the country, even besting Leon County when other perks and add-ins are considered. Yet, the Consolidated School remains in the bottom 10% of educational outcomes in the State.
This referendum appears to be about salaries and benefits, a $1.7 million hole in the budget and not a whole lot to do with the kids, rankings or anything else. Whatever else might be said, just read the School Board’s comments available for you on the Apalachicola Times web site and then decide for yourself which way to vote.
It would be advantageous for the Teachers and School Board if there is a small referendum turnout. When this issue was voted on four years ago and few people knew about the special referendum, only 940 people voted in favor of the rate hike on that ballot.
Voters are both entitled to, and need to vote on issues that affect them as directly as a millage rate increase does. Not voting sends only one message…apathy.
Acquaint yourself with the issues and vote based on the facts, not only what the supporters of the ballot tell you.
Note: Interestingly this special election is going to cost the School District between 18 to 20 thousand dollars to put on. Had the issue been put on a county-wide election ballot earlier or later, this money would have been saved.
Ask yourself the question: Why did they position this referendum as a standalone instead of going on an earlier or later county-wide ballot to save that $18,000-$20,000?