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Florida voters back taxes as they send conservatives to school boards

A roundup of Florida education news from around the state
Stephanie Meyer, a candidate running for Pinellas County School Board, exits the Starkey Road Baptist Church with her family after casting her vote Tuesday. Meyer was among several conservative candidates across Florida to win a school board seat.
Stephanie Meyer, a candidate running for Pinellas County School Board, exits the Starkey Road Baptist Church with her family after casting her vote Tuesday. Meyer was among several conservative candidates across Florida to win a school board seat. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]
Published Nov. 9

The big story: For months, Floridians heard about the importance of school board races. The outcomes could determine the direction of education policy for years to come.

On Tuesday, the voters weighed in. In several tax referendums, they showed they back the public schools. And in voting for board members, they signaled support for a more conservative education agenda.

Pasco County offered a strong example of this trend. Nearly two-thirds of voters chose to extend the district’s 1% sales tax, which supports school construction. By the same margin, they put a candidate endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on the School Board.

Pinellas County, where two open seats were in play, saw two candidates backed by Moms for Liberty win positions on the board.

Similar results occurred across the state. Among them:

Orange County voters sent a Moms for Liberty-backed candidate to the board, the Orlando Sentinel reports. • An Indian River County School Board incumbent won reelection on the strength of DeSantis’ endorsement, TC Palm reports. • Three Collier County challengers backed by the Republican Party upended incumbents seeking new terms, the Naples Daily News reports. • Leon County voters sent a registered Republican to their School Board for the first time, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. • Manatee County voters sent a third DeSantis-endorsed candidate to their School Board, the Herald-Tribune reports. • In Broward County, an incumbent suspended by DeSantis was behind in the vote as counting continued, the Miami Herald reports.

The wave did not claim all seats. Hernando County voters split their vote, returning one incumbent who faced more conservative opposition but ousting another. • In Polk County, an incumbent backed by the teachers union fended off a challenge from a candidate endorsed by the Republican Party, the Ledger reports.

School taxes meanwhile carried the day in several counties. In Flagler County, voters who sent a DeSantis-backed candidate to the board also overwhelmingly supported extending a half-cent sales tax for schools, Flagler Live reports. • Brevard County voters strongly backed a property tax increase to help improve teacher pay while also shifting their board majority to conservative, Florida Today reports. • Nearly three quarters of Palm Beach County voters agreed to continue their school district’s local option property tax, the Palm Beach Post reports. • Miami-Dade County voters strongly backed their district’s property tax referendum, the Miami Herald reports. • Broward County voters also backed a tax to boost teacher and security staff pay, WPLG reports.

In other election action, one school district — Lee County — had a vote to decide whether to return to an elected superintendent. It passed, WINK reports. • Brevard County voters agreed to establish a recall process for board members in their county charter, Florida Today reports. • Statewide, voters did not support a constitutional amendment that would have given teachers and other first responders an additional homestead exemption.

In other school news

A kiteboarder takes advantage of the strong wind and surf on Hollywood Beach as Tropical Storm Nicole continues to move towards the Florida coast on Tuesday.
A kiteboarder takes advantage of the strong wind and surf on Hollywood Beach as Tropical Storm Nicole continues to move towards the Florida coast on Tuesday. [ MIKE STOCKER / SOUTH FLORIDA | South Florida Sun-Sentinel ]
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The threat of Tropical Storm Nicole prompted several school districts to call off classes. Concerns about wind gusts led the Pasco County school district to cancel classes on Thursday. Other area districts had not yet made any decisions. • Several central Florida districts said they would close Wednesday and Thursday, WFTV reports. • Volusia and Flagler county schools prepared to cancel classes in advance of the storm, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. • South Florida school districts also said they would close Wednesday and Thursday, WFOR reports. • The storm threatened to disrupt high school football playoffs, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Don’t miss a story. Here’s a link to yesterday’s roundup.

Before you go ... Early on, the biggest detractor of putting Dolly Parton in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was Dolly Parton. She eventually warmed to the idea. And the honorees rocked out to her “Jolene” as the concert finale. Now, will Judas Priest be playing the Grand Ole Opry next?

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