FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County school district officials held a news conference Tuesday in a push to get a new property tax referendum approved by voters in August’s primary election.
The proposed one mill increase has been dubbed the “Secure the Next Generation” renewal. It would replace the current half-mill referendum that’s soon to expire.
“The renewal of this referendum will allow Broward County Public Schools to continue to recruit and retain teachers,” Broward Superintendent Vickie Cartwright said.
If approved by voters, officials say the new measure would increase teacher compensation for recruitment and retention, and maintain and enhance school resource officers and other safety staff.
Officials claim it would also enhance essential programs, like mental health services.
“We have seen such a tremendous difference when this referendum has come in, to help our educators and support staff and our admin and everyone else that is tied to schools,” Broward Teachers Union President Anna Fusco said.
Under the new measure, the average Broward homeowner would pay about $26 per month—twice the current level.
The average condominium owner would pay about $15 a month, or roughly a $7 increase.
District officials warn that if the measure doesn’t pass, other programs, outside of security, would be on the chopping block.
“We would have to cut back in other areas and those areas, quite candidly, would probably be some of the student activities that we do right now,” Cartwright said. “So it may be athletics, it may be some of our music programming that we do, some of our arts that we do.”
Longtime teacher Carolyn Flanagan, who teaches at South Plantation High School and is on the union’s executive board, says the vote “means everything” to teachers and staff. As part of her pitch to voters, she said it would help the district remain competitive salary-wise.
“We actually give money out of our own pockets to our students as well and that is becoming more and more difficult,” Flanagan said. “Just living day to day in this district is becoming increasingly difficult.”
Voters will head to the polls on Aug. 23.