Make us your home page

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

  1. Trumps travel ban to be replaced by restrictions tailored to certain countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, the New York Times reports, citing officials familiar with the plans.

    President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans said Friday. The new restrictions, aimed at preventing security threats from entering the United States, could go into effect Sunday after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration's original travel ban. Though the restrictions would differ for each country, people living in the targeted nations could be prevented from traveling to the United States or could face increased scrutiny as they seek to obtain a visa. [Associated Press]
  2. New World Brewery is closing. Where will all its concerts go now?


    Ever since it was announced that New World Brewery was closing its beloved Ybor City location and relocating to a spot farther north, there’s been an outpouring of nostalgia from artists, promoters and fans throughout the Tampa Bay music scene.

    Allison Weiss performed at New World Brewery in 2015.
  3. Farewell, New World Brewery: 11 Tampa music scene regulars toast a beloved venue


    It's hard to put into words what New World Brewery has meant to the Tampa music scene over the past 22 years.

    Matt Burke and Have Gun, Will Travel, shown performing at New World Brewery in 2009. Burke credits the venue with shaping how the band wanted to develop.
  4. Betsy DeVos rescinds Obama-era rules on campus sexual assault


    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said over and over again that sexual assault on campus is an issue she wants to get right.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
  5. In dollars: How valuable are Florida's university football programs?


    The University of Florida football program is valued in a new study at $682 million, making it the most valuable university team in the state but still worth far less than several college programs topping $1 billion. Four years ago, UF's program was valued at just under $600 million.

    The University of Florida football program is valued at  $682 million, making it the most valuable by far in the Sunshine State. Pictured are UF cheerleaders leading the crowd in a Gator cheer on Clearwater Beach last December during the Outback Bowl Beach Day on Clearwater Beach. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]