Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas school tax proponents prepare for 2012 renewal campaign

TARPON SPRINGS — Business leaders involved with a leading Pinellas County education fundraising group say they will aggressively campaign next year to renew a property tax to help public schools.

Bob McIntyre, CEO of DYTEK Corp., and Craig Sher, executive chairman of the Sembler Co. of St. Petersburg, said Wednesday that they are committed to raising money to support the renewal of a tax that generates roughly $30 million a year for the county's public schools.

"To lose that referendum would be catastrophic," Sher said.

The pair made the comments after a Pinellas County Education Foundation event. They said the campaign will be separate from the foundation because election rules prohibit nonprofit groups from political campaigning.

Speaking at a luncheon organized by the foundation, Pinellas County School District superintendent John Stewart pointed out that county voters overwhelmingly approved the half-mill tax — by 64 percent in 2004 and 70 percent in 2008.

This time, he warned, it could be tougher.

"Not a healthy environment to be asking for a renewal of a referendum," Stewart said.

The tax, which funds $3,000 toward every teacher's salary and has funded the expansion of the district's arts, reading and technology programs, expires June 30, 2013.

Without a renewal, supporters warn, schools will suffer.

"Though no one likes to pay taxes," Sher said, "it has been shown there's a direct connection from the money raised to good things in education. So we have to raise money to publicize that."

It's still very early.

Campaign organizers have not even decided whether to place the referendum on the Aug. 14, 2012, primary ballot or to attach it to the hefty Nov. 6, 2012, general election.

Beth Rawlins, chairperson of the political action committee supporting the campaign, said she hopes to reach a fundraising goal on par with years past, upward of $50,000.

"I'm still convinced this is something the people of Pinellas County support," she said.

Kim Black, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, said she expects members of her group will also play an active role in support of the measure as it has in the past.

"Our teachers are the best ones to tell the story about all the things this referendum does for our students."

In 2010 the money went toward things like the expansion of reading classrooms and reading texts, instruments and art supplies, whiteboards and online curriculum development, according to a 2010 report from the Independent Citizens Referendum Oversight Committee, a seven-person group mandated by the ballot language to monitor how the tax dollars are spent.

McIntyre said the district's arts programs rely on that funding.

"As much as I'm concerned about the salaries for the teachers, which I think they absolutely deserve, I'm as concerned about the arts programs that would be lost without this," he said. "I wonder how many students are sitting in programs right now that if it wasn't for this referendum they wouldn't be sitting in those programs."

Pinellas school tax proponents prepare for 2012 renewal campaign 11/30/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 1, 2011 12:18am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pitching on no rest backfires for Erasmo Ramirez, Rays

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — After battling through a 61/2-hour affair Sunday in Minnesota that was the second-longest game in franchise history, Rays officials were quick to decide that even though Erasmo Ramirez had just worked the 15th and final inning, they would stick with him to start Monday's game in Texas.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers, comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  2. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  3. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  4. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  5. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)