Q What are the citizens of Indian River County deciding on August 30, 2016?
A. Whether or not to allow the School Board to levy a 0.50 millage for purposes of providing continuation funding to provide high quality educational opportunities, retain highly qualified teachers, purchase and upgrade technology and supporting infrastructure, and implement and maintain Career and Technical programs. This will replace the current 0.60 millage approved on August 14, 2012
Q. Why does the School District need the 0.50 millage?
A. During the 2016-17 Legislative Session, due to legislative policy changes in the Florida Education Finance Program (FEFP) formula, the School District lost in excess $1.4 million in funding. The School District’s best available data suggests that the District will continue to experience revenue losses in fiscal 2016-17 and beyond. Concerns are further exacerbated when the January 19, 2016 General Revenue Estimating Conference projected approximately $400 million less in state General Revenue for fiscal 2016-17 than the October 2015 forecast. The School District’s best available data shows that the January 19, 2016 General Revenue Estimating Conference projects $30.985 billion for fiscal 2017-2018. That is a decrease of about $300 million compared to the General Revenue projected to be available for fiscal 2016-2017. Absent a significant increase in General Revenue or a change in the direction of recent Legislative tax and spending policies, fiscal 2017-2018 may be more lean then 2016-2017, and could include cuts from the fiscal 2016-2017 spending levels. The School District’s current estimated Taxable Assessed Valuation is $2.1 billion or 12% less than 2007-08 values as a fragile recovery in the State of Florida’s economy continues. In addition, the School District’s best available data shows that the 2016-17 statewide education budget that was passed allocates $37.7 million less for Instructional Materials than even the decreased Revised Third Calculation of fiscal year 2007-2008 that is used by the Legislature as the historic high. Transportation funding remains $48.4 million below the Legislative high water mark, and Safe Schools funding remains $11.1 million below the benchmark, all of this despite the enrollment of 177,323 more students than were enrolled in the fiscal year 2007-2008 Revised Third Calculation. Even more remarkable, despite an increase of over $96 million in the ESE Guarantee funding in this year’s budget that allocation remains over $55.4 million below the Legislature’s chosen high benchmark. The increase of over $61 million provided for the SAI is still over $3 million below the level provided in the Legislature’s chosen funding benchmark, despite the addition of a required program that costs almost $53 million despite an enrollment increase of over 177,000 students
Q. What has the School District done to cut costs and do more with less?
A. The District has cut approximately $1.2 million from its operating budget in 2016/17. We are committed to being a good steward of taxpayer dollars. In fact, the district has saved taxpayers approximately $11 million by refinancing current construction loans and has implemented energy savings contracts projected to save approximately $9 million in energy costs over the next 10 years. Finally, district staff have taken on more responsibilities, through various departmental reorganizations.
Q. How long will the 0.50 millage be in effect?
A. The proposed 0.50 millage would be in effect for 4 years, beginning on July 1, 2017 and ending four fiscal years later on June 30, 2021
Q. How much will the 0.50 millage generate?
A. The 0.50 millage is expected to generate approximately $8 million annually. This is not a new tax but a continuation of what taxpayers are already paying but at a lower rate.
Q. Will Charter Schools receive any of this money?
A. Charter Schools will receive a share of these funds based on their student counts as a percentage of the districtwide student count.
Q. What will revenue from the 0.50 millage used for?
A. The funds will be used to provide continuation funding for high quality educational opportunities, retain highly qualified teachers, purchase and upgrade technology and supporting infrastructure, and implement and maintain Career and Technical programs
Q. Why doesn't the School Board raise the local property tax millage instead of trying to pass a referendum?
A. Local Required Effort Millage is set and capped by the Legislature. The School Board is not permitted to raise the millage beyond the state amounts.
Q. Will there be any monitoring or oversight of the expenditure of funds generated by the 0.50 millage tax?
A. Included in the 0.50 millage resolution adopted by the School Board is the requirement to annually report to the citizens of Indian River County how the funds were spent.