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Florida school districts aim to inform voters about tax referendums

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Hernando County teachers wave signs in 2015 in support of a half-cent sales tax for schools referendum. The School Board is trying to place the measure, which passed, before voters in November for renewal.
Hernando County teachers wave signs in 2015 in support of a half-cent sales tax for schools referendum. The School Board is trying to place the measure, which passed, before voters in November for renewal.
Published Aug. 1

The big story: Several Florida school districts are asking their voters to approve local-option tax referendums this fall. Some seek added property taxes to pay for general expenses, primarily salaries and safety measures, while others look for more sales tax revenue to support construction, maintenance and capital projects.

To district officials, the need is clear. What’s harder for them is to convey that need without sounding like advocates.

The law allows them to provide information about what the ballot questions might do for districts, but using taxpayer money to take a position is a no-no.

It’s a tightrope act for the districts, some of which are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on what they’re calling informational campaigns, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

In Hernando County, a judge halted the School Board’s attempt to force the County Commission to place its sales tax referendum on the November 2022 ballot, Hernando Sun reports.

Hot topics

Culture wars: Florida teachers are trying to navigate their way through the state’s new laws governing instruction of topics including race and gender as they prepare lessons for the coming school year, the Washington Post reports. • The Palm Beach County School Board is working on policy revisions to meet the requirements, WPEC reports.

School board politics: A candidate for Volusia County School Board faces accusations that she threatened a potential rival in the race, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a longtime teacher to a vacancy on the Columbia County School Board. Cherie Hill was set to take the seat in November after winning the post unopposed, but will begin early, Florida Politics reports. • Three candidates are vying to replace Miami-Dade County board chairperson Perla Tabares Hantman, who’s served on the board since 1996, the Miami Herald reports. • The Sarasota County School Board will get at least two new members with the retirements of veterans Shirley Brown, who served six terms, and Jane Goodwin, who served three, the Herald-Tribune reports.

Job stress: The president of Eckerd College is stepping down after two years on the job.

Teacher pay: Negotiators for Brevard County teachers and the school district reached a deal to give teachers the largest raise they’ve seen in six years, Florida Today reports.

Charter schools: An administrative law judge backed the Osceola County School Board’s decision to terminate a charter school’s contract over teacher certification and special education concerns, the News Service of Florida reports.

Cafeteria meals: Brevard County school officials are pondering how they might help students who don’t qualify for free or reduced-price lunches but their families cannot afford the full cost, Florida Today reports.

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Learning losses: Sarasota County families turned to summer school programs to help their children get back on track after the pandemic slowed their progress, the Herald-Tribune reports.

School security: A Duval County teacher worries the school district’s new safety app could require a password change at the time someone needs to report an incident, WJAX reports.

Before you go ... RIP to Nichelle Nichols, one of the first Black women to be cast in a major role for a television series. She made a big impact. Here’s a 2016 interview from the Smithsonian Channel.

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