Frequently asked questions and answers about keeping Sarasota schools at the top
1. How has the district spent the referendum dollars and what will it do with the funds if the 1 mill is renewed?
As in the past, the millage will be used to:
- Provide extra funding for science, technology, engineering, math and other advanced courses;
- Enhance programs for visual and performing arts and career education;
- Fund campus security monitors, certified school counselors and behavior specialists;
- Fund an additional 30 minutes of instructional time during the school day;
- Attract and retain high-quality teachers;
- Fund professional development and training for teachers, counselors and other instructional staff;
- rtbsKeep class sizes low in subjects that are not covered by the state class size amendment.
2. How much money will the district receive this year from the voter-approved school millage?
The mill provides approximately $56.5 million to the district’s operating budget (about 13%) of its total revenue).
That comes to an additional $1,275 per student.
3. Will continuing the 1 mill cost property owners more money?
No! Voting to continue the 1 mill will not increase your taxes. Voting yes will only continue funding at the current level; 1 mill = $100 per $100,000 of assessed home value.
With a $25,000 homestead exemption, the owner of a house valued at $300,000 would pay $275, or approximately 75 cents per day — less than a cup of coffee!
4. What will happen if the vote to continue the 1 mill fails?
Many of the programs that make Sarasota County one of the top five highest-performing school districts in the state will be reduced or discontinued. Sarasota County schools will be forced to REDUCE OR CUT:
- Teacher pay;
- Science, technology, engineering and math programs;
- Music, art, drama and dance classes;
- Length of school day;
- Campus security monitors;
- Dual enrollment and advanced placement courses;
- Summer school and dropout prevention programs;
- Certified school counselors and behavior specialists;
- Extracurricular activities such as athletics, band and clubs;
- Increase class size in non-core classes;
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5. How much do charter schools receive from the 1mill referendum?
Charter Schools in Sarasota County receive $1,275 per student the same as any other student at any other Sarasota County public school.
6. Does the school district still need the 1 mill?
Yes, the 1 mill voters renewed in 2014 provides essential funding that gives students the additional educational opportunities necessary for academic excellence. The funds have helped the district expand science, technology, engineering and math courses and improve career and technical education programs. The mill also supports the district’s nationally-recognized visual and performing arts programs. It has also provided critical funding needed to maintain excellence in instruction and improved student achievement in spite of deep budget cuts and more difficult testing. Money from the mill supports an additional 30 minutes in the school day, which is equivalent to 18 additional days in the school year. The extra time is an essential part of the district’s ability to improve student achievement.
7. What commitment has the district made to providing modern technology to our students?
The Sarasota County School District provides advanced technology in classrooms to enhance learning and improve the creativity and critical thinking required in the modern workplace. The middle school “TechActive” Classrooms of Tomorrow and high school Technology Education Learning Studios employ cutting-edge technology to support the most advanced instructional techniques, including collaborative learning, investigation and project-based learning.
8. How can citizens be sure the district will continue to spend the money wisely?
The referendum always has required a Financial Oversight Committee of community business leaders who regularly review district expenditures. The Oversight Committee provides expert advice to district financial planners and reports to the community regarding the district’s effective investment of resources. The independent Financial Oversight Committee has consistently reported that referendum funding has been used exactly as promised. In addition, the district has the highest bond ratings of any school district in Florida and is regularly commended for exemplary audits conducted by independent CPA firms and the State Auditor General’s office.
9. Is the district committed to hiring the best teachers available?
Yes, absolutely! Since the quality of the teacher is the single most important factor in student achievement, the district strives to attract and retain the highest quality teachers in Florida. In fact, the district has a greater percentage of instructors with master’s degrees than other districts in the state. The mill allows the district to offer competitive.
10. Can administration be cut to put more money in classrooms?
For years, the Sarasota County School District has had one of the lowest numbers of administrators per student in Florida. The district’s priority is to direct as many resources as possible to the schools where they will have the greatest impact on our students.
11. How can class size increase when state law limits the number of students in a class?
The state class size requirements only apply to core subjects such as reading and math. The number of students in elective classes such as art, music and physical education will increase substantially if the referendum does not pass.
12. Doesn’t the state of florida send school districts enough money to cover their needs?
The State of Florida only provides about 20% of the revenue needed to run public schools. Approximately 80% of school funding comes from local property taxes and other sources. If Sarasota County is to continue to have excellent schools in a state that offers such a low level of support for public education, the community must step up to provide the additional funding necessary.
13. Where does sarasota county rank in comparison to what other counties in florida pay in school taxes?
Excluding the voter-approved 1 mill for school operations, taxpayers in 58 of Florida’s 67 counties paid higher property taxes for schools in 2015-16 than Sarasota County taxpayers. Renewing the voter-approved millage is critical to maintaining the district’s excellent public schools.
14. What is the current average spending per student in sarasota county?
Florida Department of Education data shows that the cost per pupil in Sarasota County in the 2015-16 school year was $9,565. Per-pupil expenditures are derived from the operating budget, which pays for salaries, transportation, supplies and services necessary to operate the schools. Paid political advertisement paid for by Citizens for Better Schools, PC.
15. How does that rate against national and state averages?
The National Education Association reports that in 2015-16, the most recent year for which comparative data is available, the national average per-student expenditure was $12,415 and the Florida average was $9,308. Florida ranks 42nd in the nation in per-student expenditures.
16. Can the state reduce its funding for sarasota county schools if citizens continue the millage?
No. All the money collected through the referendum remains in Sarasota County for our schools. By law, the amount the district receives from the state cannot be reduced as a result of a voter-approved millage.
17. Can Impact Fees Be Used For Operating Expenses?
No. Impact fees cannot be used for operating schools; they can only be used for capital construction of new schools in the areas where the impact fees are generated.
18. I have no children in sarasota county schools. Why should I vote for the referendum?
For most of us, our homes represent the largest single investment we own. There is no community with failing schools that have stable or increasing property values. Additionally, the children who sit in classes today are the very people who will someday handle your medications, bank deposits and car repairs. The quality of education our children receive will directly affect your quality of life.