Pinellas getting word out on tax referendum
With a little more than a month left before the Nov. 6 election, school officials in Pinellas County are trying to get the word out about a special tax that supports teacher salaries and arts, music and technology programs. Parents can expect to see blurbs about it in their school newsletters and possibly get a robo call at home.
Voters first approved the special tax in 2004. It's now up for its third renewal. The tax raises about $30 million a year - less recently because of declining property values - and 80 percent of that money goes to support teacher salaries. (The money is built into the teacher salary schedule so teachers actually have seen a decline in their base pay as property values have gone down.) The other 20 percent supports arts, music, reading and technology programs. (See our story here.)
School officials have to be careful not to advocate for the tax - they aren't allowed to advocate for a ballot item - but they can provide factual information about it. Here are some messages that could be going out to parents:
This is suggested for newsletters:
"The referendum to support Pinellas County Schools will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Referendum money has funded reading, art and music programs, provided up-to-date technology and textbooks, and has been used to help recruit and retain quality teachers in the district since voters originally approved the half-mill tax in 2004 and renewed it in 2008, both times by large margins. An independent citizens committee monitors the expenditure of all funds and has consistently concluded that the money is being spent as voters intended. For homeowners with homes valued at the average cost of a single-family home in Pinellas, the cost is less than $5 per month. Every penny of the funding goes directly to Pinellas County Schools. For more information, please visit the Referendum 411 website at referendum.pcsb.org."
This is suggested for phone messages:
"The referendum to support Pinellas County Schools’ reading, art, music and technology programs will appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Voters originally approved the half-mil tax in 2004 and renewed it in 2008. For homeowners with homes valued at the average cost of a single-family home in Pinellas, the cost is less than $5 per month, every penny of which goes directly to support the district. For more information, please visit the Referendum 411 website as referendum.pcsb.org."