Editor’s note: The following opinion article was written by Kim Amontree, Charlotte County School Board, District 2. The Charlotte County DEC supports passage of the referendum in the Nov. 6, 2018 Election.
Taking Our Schools from Good to Great with the Yes for Success Voter Referendum
By Kim Amontree, Charlotte County School Board, District 2
On November 6, 2018 Charlotte County voters will have an opportunity to support the children of Charlotte County and ensure that our schools have the resources to provide them with a GREAT education.
What will it cost me?
The referendum is for one mill which equates to $1 per $1,000 of the assessed (not market) value of your home. The median assessed value of a homesteaded property in Charlotte County is $134,000 . After the $25,000 school tax exemption, the one mill would be assessed on $109,000 which would equal $109. To see the assessed value of your home and your history of school taxes paid, go to http://www.ccappraiser.com/.
Why aren’t you doing a sales tax?
Florida statutes require that property taxes be used for operating expenses such as teacher salaries and staff.
I don’t have children in the school system, why should I vote for this?
- The quality of a community’s school system has a direct impact on a resident’s quality of life. If families and businesses do not have confidence in our school system, they will not move to Charlotte County. In order for our community to sustain itself, we need a diverse economy. We need businesses to share the tax burden and we need working families to provide the things we need – quality healthcare, restaurants, law enforcement, and skilled labor.
- Higher quality school systems benefit everyone by raising your property value. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a definite correlation between school expenditures and home values in a given neighborhood. For every dollar spent on public schools in a community, home values increased $20. *
- Higher education attainment in a community results in lower crime. A Brookings Institution Report found that “dropouts are incarcerated at rates twice those of high school graduates, leading to much greater public spending on policing, the court system, and the prison system. “*
*Clive R. Belfield, and Henry Levin,”The Price We Pay. Economic and Social Consequences of Inadequate Education,” 2007
*Barrow, Lisa and Cecilia Elena Rouse. “Using Market Valuation To Assess Public School Spending,” Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88 (9-10, Aug),
Why is the School Board asking voters to pay an additional tax?
Our school funding is appropriated by state legislators. The funding they have allocated has not kept pace with inflation. In 2007 the per student funding was $7,167. Ten years later in 2017 the per student funding had increased by only $334 to $7,501. If funding increased with inflation we would be receiving almost $8,500 per student.
What has the School District done to cut expenses?
In 2017, the School District cut 47 teacher positions and 26 non-school based positions. A hiring freeze is in effect for February through May of each year. Insurance premiums have been raised and every insurance plan is now a high deductible plan. All extra-curricular activities are funded through student fundraising with only minimal school budget contribution. In addition, every student must pay to participate in these activities. The “pay to participate” fee is $100. School buses only transport students who live more than 2 miles from school and there is no transportation for athletics within the county limits.
How will the Referendum money be used?
$5-7 million on Salaries and Benefits – Starting teachers in Charlotte County are the lowest paid in our region. The starting salary for a teacher with a Bachelor’s degree is $38,232. For comparison – Sarasota is $44,000, Lee is $40,000 and Desoto is $39,000.
$5 million to provide an extra 30 minutes per day of instruction. Research has shown that extra instructional time will have a measurable impact on student achievement. In Sarasota which has had a referendum tax for many years, it equates to an additional year of school from Kindergarten to Graduation.
$3 million for programs to support student success- These include:
Additional counselors, paraprofessionals, and reading and math coaches.
Athletic, art and music programs.
Safety and security enhancements.
How do I know the money will be spent on these items?
A Citizen Oversight Committee will be appointed to ensure that the money is spent as specified on the ballot question. This committee will make an annual report to the Board and Community.
I believe this is critical for our community. How can I help?
Go to the Advocacy web site below and enter your contact information. The Yes For Success Committee needs all kinds of volunteers. Activities will include phone canvassing as well as door knocking. Volunteering can be as simple as putting a sign in your yard or hosting a neighborhood coffee.
If you belong to a civic organization that would like a presentation to learn more, please go to the web site and make a request.
Vote by mail ballots will be sent in early October. Look for the Yes For Success Referendum at the very bottom of your ballot and remember to VOTE Yes!