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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Not the kind of funding flexibility they're looking for



There's an idea floating around Tallahassee that would allow Florida school districts to transfer up to one-third of the property taxes they collect for capital projects into the general operating budget.

While many district leaders are asking for the ability to spend their money more easily and with fewer restrictions, this concept is not the way to go for some of them -- especially those in districts that still have construction needs, like Pasco.

"We still need to build," Pasco chief finance officer Olga Swinson says. "We need to maintain our facilities and all that. If they do that, it's going to hurt us."

The concern is that the state would expect districts to transfer the money into operations, even though they would not be required to. Then the districts' capital projects -- in Pasco's case, a $16.6 million list that includes new buses, air conditioning upgrades and athletic equipment -- would be shortchanged. And the tax source, Pasco superintendent Heather Fiorentino suggests, might not ever return.

Some of you might say that the schools can do without some material things in this tight economy. Others argue that these are work places and tools of the trade that should be in good condition for the students who attend and the employees who work there.

Funding flexibility for schools seems to be a goal for lawmakers. Guess we'll have to wait and see how it gets defined.


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:16am]


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