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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida School Boards Association to challenge law on election expenses




Florida school officials sounded the alarm as soon as Senate Bill 216 unexpectedly zipped to approval in the spring. Their chief concern? That districts would be handcuffed in their ability to advocate for sales taxes and other revenue enhancements they might ask voters to approve.

Their outlook on the new law dimmed even more as school boards around the state began to approve local tax increases for "critical operating needs" — increases that require voter buy-in if they are to continue past two years.

"We think it would greatly impact you in your ability to go out and advocate for the 0.25 (millage rate), and it would greatly inhibit you from going out to advocate for any dollars you may want if you're going to have a special referendum," such as a sales tax hike for school construction, Florida School Boards Association executive director Wayne Blanton said in a newly released video legislative update to members.

So the Florida School Boards Association is planning to join the state's county government association in suing to stop SB 216 from being implemented. The bill might have its legitimate purposes, Blanton suggested, but it shouldn't stop districts from things like placing a sign outside a school that tells people that if the sales tax passes, this campus will get a cafeteria upgrade.

"What we're beginning to see is problems exist in the bill," Blanton said. Most specifically, he added, is the question about what the bill means when it says "using public funds."


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:36am]


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