The Pasco School Board is set to do its part to get the Penny for Pasco sales tax back before voters in November.
On Tuesday, it's scheduled to approve the ballot language and a list of projects that the district would fund with the anticipated $226 million it would receive from the 10-year tax extension.
The list includes school remodeling projects, technology improvements and upgrades for schools, and replacing physical education equipment. School Board members have generally supported all of these items.
One line on the list has raised some eyebrows on the board, though. It's an $11.3 million expense for a new student information system. Board members expressed surprise when superintendent Heather Fiorentino first mentioned the item at a workshop this spring, saying they knew nothing of the project.
Fiorentino and her staff told the board that the computer upgrade for monitoring and analyzing student records was required under Race to the Top, and that the state only recently told districts that the cost was to be borne by local districts. Yet state officials have said they announced this cost expectation in early 2011, and not mid-2012.
Board members have questioned the item, but haven't yet taken it off the Penny list.
The main projects on the list are renovations and/or expansions of 15 schools, some of them 1970s "Kelley schools" with cramped spaces, outdated electrical systems and leaky roofs.
The schools slated for major renovations are: Anclote Elementary, Bayonet Point Middle, Cox Elementary, Gulf High, Hudson High, Land O'Lakes High, Mittye P. Locke Elementary, Northwest Elementary, Pasco Elementary, Quail Hollow Elementary, Ridgewood High, San Antonio Elementary, Shady Hills Elementary, Woodland Elementary and Zephyrhills High.
The proposed list also includes technology upgrades and traffic safety improvements at numerous schools.
Voters originally approved the 10-year Penny for Pasco sales tax in 2004. The school district and county government each received 45 percent of the revenue, with Pasco's cities dividing the rest. If voters decide Nov. 6 to extend the Penny for another decade, the school district and local governments would split the revenue the same way.
By law, the money must go to capital expenses — such as building schools, improving roads, buying conservation land and purchasing patrol cars for sheriff's deputies. It cannot pay for workers' salaries or other operational costs.