Florida

Putting Education Reform To The Test

Seminole County School Board May Test The Waters On Proposed Tax Hike

David Salafia / flickr

Seminole County's school board could ask voters to raise taxes.

After laying out every worst-case scenario — including cutting sports teams and turning thermostats up to the state maximum — Seminole County’s school board is now considering asking voters to approve a tax increase, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

School officials have previously sought — and failed — a sales tax hike to help pay for schools.

Seminole County is facing a $16 million budget shortfallĀ  next year, even with a bump in state funding. The suburban Orlando district is one of the state’s highest-performing.

Neighboring Orange County has managed to avoid large-scale budget cuts after voters approved a tax increase.

But a tax hike makes for tough politics in Central Florida, and school board members may field a test poll to check voters’ mood.

Many parents and even some students have encouraged the School Board to seek the tax increase. But the School Board remains cautious when many taxpayers are having tough times paying their bills.

“We come out looking like money-grubbing beggars constantly,” School Board member Diane Bauer said. “But if we really need the money, we need to stand up and put our big girl shoes on and go out and sell it.”

The proposed 1-mill increase would raise the school levy to about 8.72 mills – $8.72 for each $1,000 of taxable property. The owner of an average Seminole home assessed at $155,000 with the $25,000 Homestead Exemption would pay an extra $130, raising their annual school tax bill to about $1,133.

What do you think of Seminole County’s situation? Would you be willing to raise taxes for school funding? Has the school district done enough to close its budget hole?

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