They’re calling it the “Secure the Next Generation Renewal.”
The Broward County School Board will be asking voters to once again tax themselves, to invest in public education by approving a referendum in the August primary election.
“The Florida Legislature continues to fund education at one of the lowest levels in the nation, education funding continues to fall short while teacher and other staff salaries, employee health care costs, utility costs and the need to staff security staff in our schools continues to increase,” said Broward School Board chair Laurie Rich Levinson during Tuesday's board meeting.
The new referendum is an extension of the measure passed by voters in 2018, which expires next year.
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“We are holding things together with gum and shoelaces and without the additional resource for safety and security and for mental health services for our students, we are going to be in a world of hurt,” said Lisa Maxwell of the Broward Principals and Assistant Principals Association.
The board heard a lot of comments like hers before they agreed on a formula for renewing the referendum: 75% of the money raised will go to staff salary enhancements, 17% for safety and security, and 8% for mental health services. It will be a one-mill investment, compared to the half-mill referendum which is expiring.
“The original half-mill referendum voters approved in 2018 is set to expire, it is critically important the community understands that without this renewal, funding of more than 500 school safety personnel, 100 mental health professionals, and over $80 million in competitive teacher and staff supplements will no longer exist,” said superintendent Dr. Vickie Cartwright.
Cartwright said Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County are poaching teachers from Broward because they have the means to do so, referendums for education with higher millage rates are already in effect in those counties.
“So it’s critically important for our voters to understand that as it is today, there’s a critical difference and we are trying to just get back into being competitive with the counties that are surrounding us right now because we want to keep our quality talent here in Broward County Public Schools and we want to also recruit quality talent into the district,” Cartwright said.
Voters will have their say on August 23. The referendum would cost the average homeowner $23 a month, compared to the $11.50 that the hypothetical homeowner is spending on the current referendum. It would generate $177 million for Broward County Public Schools and $45 million for the county’s public charter schools.