Higher taxes to pay for teachers' raises? It's up to Miami-Dade voters

School officials pushing for 'yes' vote on November referendum

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Teachers at public schools in Miami-Dade County are poised for a raise if voters approve a measure in November that would raise taxes.

Referendum 362 asks to raise property taxes by .75 mills, which would generate about $232 million a year for the compensation and safety and security.

"A slight tax increase will not be damaging. What will that be? Thirty-nine cents a day for the average taxpayer in our community. That's $3 a week, That's $12 a month to adequately compensate teachers," Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.

But what's not clear is how much of that money is actually being devoted to teacher salaries. A process is still being worked out by the superintendent and the teacher's union, officials said.

The district has its own police force and has contracted with other departments to staff schools with resource officers, a state requirement.

Yet the extra cash would also fund more security initiatives.

"We have many schools that need to be upgraded when it comes to security. Well, that's what we're trying to do here to make sure that those schools that need to be fortified are fortified," said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan.

Voters in Broward County passed a similar tax measure in August to raise teacher pay and to fund safety and security districtwide.

In Miami-Dade County, the push is on by county union leaders to do the same.

"Today, there's hope and that's why we're here. We're here to tell the community that they can do right by us, that they can help us by voting yes on 362," said Karla Hernandez-Mats, president of United Teachers of Dade.

A "yes" vote would allow the extra funds, but only for four years. After that, the question would return to voters in a future election.

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