Charlotte County Schools is asking voters to continue their support for the education of our children by extending a 1 mill tax on property for the next four years.
Four years ago, voters easily passed this referendum to help Charlotte County Schools keep up. They had to keep up with neighboring Sarasota County, a district whose higher pay was a magnet for Charlotte teachers. They also had to keep up academically, falling into the middle of the pack in state testing performances.
They attacked the performance issue by extending the school day by 30 minutes and paying teachers accordingly.
The school district and supporters make a strong case for the success the extra money has brought the past four years.
According to information provided by the school district:
- 80% of our schools have increased or maintained their school grade.
- 70% of schools are graded “A” or “B.”
- The total number of “A” and “B” schools have increased each year.
- The total number of “C” schools in the district has been reduced from 40 to 30%.
- Grade 3 students have outperformed the state average in reading.
- The graduation rate has increased to 91%, the highest in district history.
- The percentage of students graduating college and career ready has increased 16%.
- In just one school year, Advanced Placement scores increased 10%.
Those numbers are a good indication the extra money has benefited Charlotte County schools.
The tax is $1 for every $1,000 of value on your property. A home valued at $200,000 would require a $200 tax payment.
Some school critics, however, charge that the money spent is not moving the needle enough. They claim that Charlotte County’s standing in the state remains in the middle of the pack while there should have been improvement.
We too would like to see the benefits show up more in how our schools rank statewide. But the process needs even more time to take root we believe. The challenges were great and the pandemic did little to help while creating more headaches for a school district still putting its plan in place.
And, there have been a lot of benefits that won’t show up on a state grade.
For example, some of the referendum money was used to increase security personnel on campus. Other benefits included hiring math and reading coaches and behavioral support staff. And dozens, maybe hundreds, of students who were not able to participate in athletics, band and other extracurricular activities that once required a fee, are now able to do so without cost.
Schools are able, or will be able if this referendum passes, to devote more money to school psychologists and/or counselors who can play a key role in helping students who may have issues such as depression or anxiety that affects their ability to learn.
We don’t agree with critics of this tax.
If the referendum is not passed Nov. 8, there will likely be an exodus of instructors to other school districts, or other jobs. There will also be less funding for the arts and music programs. Positions could be eliminated.
We support our Charlotte County School District and recommend a vote in favor of the public school’s referendum.
Editor: Vote YES on the Charlotte County School District “AD VALOREM MILLAGE ELECTION”
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