The Pasco County School Board has given first-round approval to a total school district budget approaching $1.5 billion.
Superintendent Kurt Browning detailed some of the budget’s highlights, during the board’s first public hearing on the budget, held on July 28.
The board approved the tentative tax rate and budget, following a public hearing. There was no public comment. The final public hearing on the budget is set for Sept. 15 at 6 p.m., in the board room at the school district’s headquarters, 7227 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., in Land O’ Lakes.
Browning covered some of the budget’s high points.
The proposed total tax millage for 2020-2021 fiscal year is 5.922 mills, which is a decrease of 0.179 mills, Browning said. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable value.
“Under the proposed rate, a homeowner of a $175,000 home, after the deduction of the $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay $26.85 less per year than last year,” Browning said.
Olga Swinson, the district’s chief finance officer, explained the reduction.
Each year, the state sets a required local effort amount that local districts are mandated to levy, she said. This year, it was 3.664 mills. Last year, it was 3.853 mills.
“Had we been able to keep the same millage that we did last year, we would generate about an additional $6.3 million, in fiscal year 2020-2021,” she said, but that is not an option.
The district’s proposed budget, a 7.3% increase over last year’s budget, includes a general operating budget of $699 million and a proposed capital budget of $415 million.
“The district received additional funds totaling $24.1 million in state funding to accommodate a predicted growth of 1,933 students,” Browning said.
He detailed how the $24.1 million will be spent:
- $10.1 million is set aside for School Choice, including charter schools and scholarships
- $4.9 million will go for retirement increases
- $2.1 million will go for insurance increases
- $3.3 million will be used for 68.91 staffing allocations for schools and 5.7 staffing allocations for the district
- $1.2 million will go for specific academic program initiatives, including programs aimed at supporting educational equity
- $500,000 will go for property insurance, utilities and School Resource Officer contract increases
The district’s proposed operating budget includes allocations and operating costs for the opening of Cypress Creek Middle School, and mid-year expenses for the Starkey Ranch K-8 school.
The district’s budget also allocates funds to raise the minimum teacher salary to about $45,000, in accordance with Gov. Ron DeSantis’ requirement to improve teacher pay.
It is not clear yet what kind of raises will be provided for other district employees.
“Salary increases for additional instructional personnel and other staff will be provided as funding permits,” Browning said.
“The proposed capital budget is $415 million, an increase of $73.5 million over last year, Browning said.
Big-ticket items in that budget include the construction of Starkey Ranch K-8 and the construction of the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation.
Other projects included in the capital budget include a new bus loop at San Antonio Elementary School, renovation and remodeling at Zephyrhills High School, cafeteria renovations, replacement of HVAC systems, infrastructure upgrades at various schools and lease/purchase of computers and school buses.
Published August 05, 2020