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Referendums Pass in Broward and Orange County to Increase Teacher Pay and Enhance Security

  • Voters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently approved a new property tax referendum that will increase teacher pay and improve school safety for Broward County Public Schools.

    The one mill increase, known as the “Secure the Next Generation Referendum,” will replace the current half-mill referendum that voters approved in 2018 and was set to soon expire.

    The funding from the referendum will not only be used to increase pay for teachers in the school district, but it will also go toward efforts to recruit new educators, maintain and enhance school resource officers and school safety staff, and provide mental health services.

    According to district officials, funds from the half-mill referendum supported more than 500 school safety personnel, 100 mental health professionals, and approximately $82 million in salary supplements for teachers and staff.

    Broward Schools Superintendent Vickie Cartwright released a statement thanking voters for seeing the value in investing in the public school system and approving the referendum renewal.

    “We are truly grateful for the voters’ support, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to educating today’s students to succeed in tomorrow’s world,” wrote Cartwright.

    In addition to Broward, Florida’s Orange County Public Schools in Orlando also had a tax referendum pass.

    The school system aimed to continue their tax referendum for an additional four years to help fund essential operating expenses.

    According to district officials, the special tax will save the district from cutting roughly $177 million from its budget next year. Last year, the tax funded the salaries of 1,165 teachers, as well as counselors, social workers, coaches, and athletic trainers.

    It is estimated that the measure will generate an estimated $818 million in the four-year period beginning in fiscal year 2023-24 and ending in 2026-27.

    Voters Pass St. Louis Public Schools Bond Measure
    Voters in St. Louis overwhelmingly approved a $160-million bond measure for repairs and renovations across 60 buildings throughout St. Louis Public Schools.

    The bond measure, which backers say will not raise property taxes of city residents, passed with approximately 87 percent of the vote. Funds from the bond will be used to upgrade the district’s heating and air conditioning systems, repair roofs, renovate bathrooms and remove fencing at schools that are contaminated with lead.

    St. Louis Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the passage of the bond by such a wide margin means voters were sending a message.

    “They support kids in the city of St Louis, irrespective of what's going on, the economy and in the pandemic, they support kids and families,” Adams said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio. “Secondly, I think the other message is that they trust this board to use the dollars appropriately to do the right things.”

    The last time the district passed a bond measure was in 2010 for $155 million in repairs and improvements for 73 school buildings. According to district officials, all those projects have been completed.