Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Early $1.2B Pinellas schools budget includes new programs

LARGO — The Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday tentatively approved a $1.2 billion budget that includes two new elementary magnets, new middle school programs and the rebuilding of Largo High School.

Final budget approval will come in September.

The budget for the 2014-15 school year includes about $25 million more from the state for operating expenses. The $878.8 million operating budget pays for teacher salaries and day-to-day costs. Some of the additional dollars will be needed to pay for state-mandated expenses, such as an extra hour of reading at more than a dozen low-performing schools.

Kevin Smith, district CFO, said district officials don't have a firm cost yet for the extra reading. The district is "still looking at options there," he said.

The tentative budget also includes a slightly lower property tax rate for homeowners. The rate is $7.84 per $1,000 of taxable value, compared to $8.06 last year.

The owner of a house valued at $200,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay about $1,372 under the new rate, about $38 less than last year. School taxes aren't subject to the full $50,000 in the state's homestead exemption.

Despite the lower rate, some homeowners could still get an increase in their taxes because of an increase in property values.

The School Board doesn't set most of its property tax rate; the state does.

Major projects in the budget include the construction of Largo High, which is being rebuilt. The $277.4 million capital budget includes about $35 million for that work, although the final cost is expected to be higher. The school is being rebuilt in phases.

New schools and academic programs are expected to draw students, possibly bringing some into the public school system from private schools. The district is reopening Gulf Beaches and Kings Highway elementary schools as technology magnets. Much of the cost will be covered by an increase in state allotments from the added enrollment, said Smith, the district's chief financial officer.

The district is also putting about $2.6 million into new classrooms at East Lake High School, which will house a new middle school program. The school district also took over Gulf Coast Academy, a Largo charter school for at-risk students that was closing, and will get state funding for its 350 students.

The overall budget — including capital dollars, grants and federal stimulus money — is down slightly compared to last year's. The district is getting fewer dollars for capital projects, which include construction and school maintenance. It is also getting less federal grant funding, although that is expected to grow significantly over the year.

Early $1.2B Pinellas schools budget includes new programs 07/29/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Florida's jobless rate looks great — but 25 other state rates look even better

    Economic Development

    No debate here: Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop — even as more people move to Florida and enter the workforce. What's not to like?

    Who remembers the remarkable lines of hundreds of people looking for construction work in Tampa back in March of 2010 at a job fair at the Encore construction site near downtown Tampa? Now the construction industry is struggling to find skilled workers to meet building demand. [
JOHN PENDYGRAFT | TIMES]
  2. Tampa police investigating fatal shooting at Busch Boulevard motel

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police are investigating a shooting at a motel near Busch Gardens that left one woman dead.

  3. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.

    Travel

    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)

  4. Pinellas detectives investigating shooting that led to car crash

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Pinellas Sheriff's detectives are investigating a shooting that investigators said led to a man crashing his car after he was shot in the abdomen early Tuesday.

  5. Trump tweets, McCain return set stage for health bill vote (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "step up to the plate" for Tuesday's crucial Senate vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Obama health care law. The stage was set for high drama, with Sen. John McCain returning to the Capitol to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with brain …

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. [Associated Press]