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Florida school tax proposals offer little relief for weary taxpayers

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
The Pasco County school district is seeking renewal of a sales tax in November to help pay for new school construction like Cypress Creek Middle, completed in 2019. County government is not offering any tax relief for the measure, unlike in past years.
The Pasco County school district is seeking renewal of a sales tax in November to help pay for new school construction like Cypress Creek Middle, completed in 2019. County government is not offering any tax relief for the measure, unlike in past years. [ JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK ]
Published Aug. 4

The big story: In past years, when some Florida school districts sought sales tax increases, their counterparts in county government offered property tax cuts to offset the cost to homeowners.

The approach sweetened the deal, helping measures to pass.

This time around, no such cooperation is visible. And districts have little ability to offer relief on their own, with most of their revenue streams controlled by state rules.

Read more about the situation and the reaction in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, each of which have school referendums planned before the end of 2022.

Hot topics

Veterans as teachers: In defending new Florida law giving military veterans extended temporary certification to become teachers, Gov. Ron DeSantis argued military service might better prepare a person to teach than attending university, Florida Politics reports.

Teacher shortages: Districts across the state are fast approaching the return of students with large numbers of teaching vacancies. Hillsborough County needs more than 600, WTVT reports. Experts said the situation in Florida and other states is worse than they’ve ever seen, the Washington Post reports.

Coronavirus concerns: Manatee and Sarasota county schools have relaxed their pandemic protocols for the new academic year, the Herald-Tribune reports. “COVID-19 will be treated like any other illness,” said Sarasota district spokesperson Kelsey Whealy.

Testing: Schools and families are gearing up for newly required progress monitoring, which takes place sooner than the spring testing season Florida had grown accustomed to, WESH reports.

Budgets: The Marion County school district has a budget that’s millions of dollars higher than a year ago, bolstered almost entirely by federal stimulus money, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

Other school news

Florida’s school enrollment is on the rise. New projections estimate the state will have about 60,000 more students when they return to classes this month, Politico Florida reports. • The Flagler County school district unveiled its new construction plans, which hinge on whether its student numbers begin to rise after years of limited growth, Flagler Live reports.

Lee County schools returned peanut butter to their cafeterias in 2021. District officials offered their insights and advice on how it happened to the Southern Peanut Growers Conference, Southeast Farm Press reports.

An Osceola County charter school is preparing to close after a judge approved the school district’s decision to terminate its contract. The school operator said he will fight the decision, WESH reports.

Don’t bring a taser to school. Palm Beach County officials are warning families that children could be expelled for having the devices, WPTV reports. It became an issue when some students brought tasers to campus to defend themselves after classes away from school. The district is considering a policy to give students “safe harbor” if they accidentally bring a small weapon to school, WPTV reports.

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