Broward County Public Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie and, Broward Teachers Union leaders and other education leaders are urging voters to pass a ½ millage tax increase appearing on the Aug. 28 ballot.
If approved, the millage rate increase is expected to raise about $93 million annually. It would be in effect for four years. Runcie said that 72 percent of the money will go toward teacher and instructional staff pay increases. About 20 percent of the money would pay for more school resource officers and school safety personnel and about 8 percent would toward more school guidance counselors and social workers. If this passes it is likely that teachers would see about a six percent pay increase.
“We need to secure more funding for teacher pay increase,” said Runcie. “If the voters don’t approve this millage rate increase we will be stuck.”
The referendum is known as the “Secure the Next Generation” initiative and is considered necessary because there is a gap that has not been filled by the Florida legislature. It appropriated a 47 cent increase per-student funding for the 2018/2019 school year, leaving Broward County with the second lowest funding increase in the state.
The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 of an assessed property value and is used to determine the amount of a property tax. The proposed ½ millage increase equates to an estimated ten dollars per month for homeowners with an average home value of $240,000 and an estimated $5 per month for condo owners with an average condo value of $130,000 with a homestead exemption.
Like all Florida school districts, Broward Public Schools are required to comply with a new Florida law that requires every school to have a school safety officer. The state legislature did not include a provide a way for school districts to fully fund the extra expenses for compensation and benefits associated with the increased staffing.
“This referendum is critical to the success of our students moving forward,” said Runcie. “This initiative is designed to help us provide additional security for our students, while also keeping great teachers in our schools, so they don’t leave out District for higher paying jobs in other communities.”