Thursday, January 3, 2013

Parent Group Calls For Two Separate School Tax Votes

MERRITT ISLAND, Florida - A group of parents says it is working with the local teachers union to propose a 2013 ballot initiative that will extend a current property tax and add a scaled-back sales tax to offset proposed school budget cuts, according to one of the parents involved.
Previously, the group has said that a vote would cost Brevard taxpayers $760,000.
Christine McClure of “Save Brevard Public Schools” told Brevard Times that the ballot measure will be different, and possibly, confusing.
“Our ‘Save BPS’ committee is working with the Brevard Federation of Teachers to promote our petition to ask the School Board to support a special election in November,” she said. “We are requesting that they allow us to move forward with the continuation of the 0.25 mil tax that will expire June 30, 2013 plus a 0.25 cent sales tax.
“These two parts will have to be put up individually on the ballot, but we are hoping that we can educate the public enough so that they realize we need both to pass because the 0.25 mil tax will go toward operating costs while the 0.25 cent sales tax will go toward capital outlay.”
McClure added that she feels Brevard Public Schools failed in educating the public about the need for more revenue.
“We firmly believe that the Brevard Public School Board did not do their job in publicizing the referendum that failed in November and that they are not adequately listening to the wishes of the community, so we feel it is necessary to vocalize our frustration,” she said.
The group has issued a mission statement so that the public knows their agenda. 
Save Brevard Public School's goal is to foster and organize county-wide advocacy to achieve the following:
1. Demand the School Board work with the community and city and county officials to identify budget cuts with minimal impacts on classrooms, students, and communities.
2. Advocate for a balanced budget, establishment of a school's public oversight committee, and voter education through a 2013 special election and future elections;
3. Promote the election of board members who are receptive to community input and have a student-centered approach.
4. Coordinate with PTOs and other groups to represent public school advocates' voice to our state legislature to create awareness and change in Tallahassee and to educate Brevard voters on the position of state officials.
McClure is asking that supporters go to http://savebps.webs.com to sign the petition.
“Since this petition is unofficial because the School Board must put the referendums on the ballot, we are asking that Brevard County voters help us by signing our online petition,” she said.  “We currently have 641 signatures on our online petition, and we also have signatures on paper petitions, which puts us at almost 1000 signatures total.”

Brevard Public Schools and Brevard Federation of Teachers officials were unavailable for comment.
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26 comments:

  1. Because I am broke and feel that most of the needed money is in different categories within the government, I will never be in favor of any kind of tax increase. Especially knowing from past taxes that once a tax is set in place it is never removed. Your government officials will never move money from one over-funded fund into an underfunded fund. Instead they find ways of making that over-funded fund become empty by the end of the year by wasting it on things like conventions out of state, mass bonuses, or projects that aren't needed. I'm in construction with no retirement, no paid vacations, driving a broken down car, credit card almost maxed out, and living paycheck to paycheck.

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  2. Notombstone,
    We understand your concerns, which is why we want a parent oversight committee. Also, there will be definite dates attached to these taxes, so they will not be in place forever. PLEASE go to our website at savebps.webs.com and read the specifics about the mil tax and the sales tax that we propse.

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  3. I am very sorry times are so tough for you right now, notombsone. A tax CAN be removed, as the .25 property millage expires in June 2013. In addition, many counties in Florida have a sales surtax with an expiration date. Volusia has a half-cent sales tax that will expire in 2016; Seminole had a one cent sales surtax for 10 years (1992-2002), which was extended by voters for another 10 years (2002-2012). The operating budget is able to move funds over to the capital budget, but not vice versa. We DO want a parent oversight committee due to concerns you have mentioned.

    Also, a sales tax puts the burden on to our tourists. A household that makes $50,000 will spend about $12.50 per year with a quarter cent sales tax. That is a small price to pay to stabilize our schools, and keep Brevard an attractive place for new businesses to relocate. This will bring more jobs, including construction.

    I sincerely hope things get easier for you. I, too, live paycheck to paycheck.

    -Tina Burton

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  4. First, it should be a citizen oversight committee, not just parents. Parents have (and should) their children's interests in mind and aren't necessarily going to have the perspective needed to make hurtful cuts. Citizens should have the same rights as parents to oversee the schoolboard and the expenditures.

    Second, my issue with the sales tax is that it seems like the only way to remove the increased sales tax is when/if revenue levels hit the insanely high levels of 2008. We all know that property tax levels were ridiculously high and that meeting those levels of revenue most likely isn't going to happen, so I see this as a permanent increase with no real method of repeal.

    Next, we have been hearing for the past several years that school enrollment is down. Asking for more money and refusing to close certain schools seems to be selfish.

    Finally, I find it bothersome that the schools continue to ask for money and never present any real cuts or savings to the public. If you literally cannot function on the budget you have, you need to make it extremely clear why there isn't enough money. That hasn't been done. All we hear is the typical crying of the schools about a lack of money. Well, we all have a lack of money. So if you want more of the finite pie, you need to explain why you deserve it.

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    1. I agree ANON it should be a citizen oversight committee. There are many CITIZENS who understand the impact that weakened schools will have on the prosperity of this county. This is not just about parents looking out for their own. I don't have a child at the schools slated to close and I don't teach at one of them HOWEVER I do have an interest in helping Brevard County keep its world class image in attracting new business. Without a sound public school system companies will hesitate. A stronger BREVARD also means increased construction notombstone ..... it is all connected and if we don't start looking at that we are all sunk.

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  5. If you don't raise taxes and give us more and more again, you must be against children and education, say the teachers' unions. Obviously, parents buy into these demands - until their kids are out of school. The system is bloated with overpaid administrators, teachers who get approx. 4 months vacation, surplus schools, and an outrageous selection of expensive activities and sports teams. If only an audit of these expenses, performed by an objective unbiased outsider, was published for the public - there would be no talk of tax increases. Taxpayers would demand a reduction of the current taxes.

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    1. AON,I AGREE WITH YOU THE SCHOOL SYSTEM IS FULL OVERPAID ADMINISTRATORS,DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT THEY PAY OUT FOR SCHOOL ACTIVITIES AND SPORTS? THERE ARE NO CHECKS AND BALANCES ON OUR SCHOOL BOARD.

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    2. If you ever worked in a school then you would say teachers and administrators are not paid ENOUGH! The pay is not bloated considering the education they must have to provide quality schools. Budgets are streamlined and now will hurt children because the county couldn't pass this small tax that is already in place. Sad for the children that they will be the ones hurt by the cuts.

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  6. Yes, I agree, it IS an independent citizen oversight committee, I misspoke (well, mis-typed). Absolutely.

    We propose a ten year tax deadline, or if property levels reach the 2008 values, whichever comes first.

    An article in Reuters, August 2012, states "Student enrollment declines were high in fiscal 2009 at 1,235 (1.7%), but much more moderate (down 522) through fiscal 2012, and in total were not as significant as expected. Contrary to prior expectations, enrollment has been projected to increase by 583 students (approximately 0.8%) for the upcoming school year, to 73,489. Population growth has been steady, increasing 12% since the 2000 census to 543,376 in 2010 (1)." So, yes, there was an initial decline in enrollment a few years ago, but we are seeing the enrollment increase now. What would be wasted to close 4 schools, only to need to reopen them in 1-2 years? An article in the Washington Post shows that repeatedly in different cities around the country, closing schools costs MORE than keeping them open(2)! Talk about a waste of money! Clearlake Middle School was actually closed in the 1990s, only to reopen a few years later.

    One reason for the deficit is that the Federal government used to give Brevard a sizable amount of money to offset the cost of PAFB's children in school whose families do not pay property taxes. This is part of the Federal Impact Aid, which goes to school districts to make up for untaxed Indian lands, military installations, public housing and national parks. In a 2011 article "With its huge number of students who are children of federal civilian employees — just over 7,000 — Brevard County, Fla., Public Schools should be getting $4.75 million this year but will get only $608,000(3)" and originally, it was once nearly $43 million.

    To add to the decrease is a systematic decline in state funding. The Florida Lottery was sold as a "supplement" to the education funding, but with each passing year, the State of Florida has dedicated less and less to schools. Of every dollar the lottery makes, only 30 cents goes to education. Of that, less than 50% goes to K-12 funding, the rest goes to colleges and universities.

    With our local property values declining, less money is going to funding our schools. THAT is where the shortfalls come from.


    "The area economy was historically anchored by the federal government's space program with ancillary defense and aerospace contractors including Harris Corporation, Northrop Grumman and Boeing playing a significant role in the economy. Tourism also represents a sizeable portion of the area economy, driven by the area's numerous beaches. The county experienced significant job losses during calendar 2011 as a result of the retirement of the space shuttle program. However, year-over-year employment is up 2%, and the unemployment rate, at 9% in May, is down from 10.7% last year (1)." This shows our area is leveling off, and many cities have a revitalization program in place.

    (1)http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/15/idUSWNA351120120815
    (2)http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2012/12/21/mass-school-closings-why-the-numbers-dont-add-up/
    (3)http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-02-04-fedaidimpact04_ST_N.htm

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  7. Overpaid administrators? I'm sure. That is why the proposed tax does NOT give the school board the full amount they asked for. They NEED to make administrative cuts; we just want to prevent the MASSIVE cuts our youth will face. The cuts proposed will hurt our children's education, not some pocket in administration.

    Teachers overpaid? Not on your life. You couldn't PAY me enough money in the world to be a teacher! Have you ever spent a significant amount of time around a group of 15-20 children? It is exhausting! After a few hours of volunteering in my child's classroom, I'm ready to decompress. The teachers get 14 weeks off from classroom, but I know some of that is spent on continuing education and planning. And it is simply NOT a 9-5 day. Teachers are at school from 7am-4pm, add in grading papers, parent-teacher conferences, emails, planning from home, IEPs, and it's easily a 10-12 hour day, 5 days a week. Consider a 11 work day x5 days/week x38weeks=2090. Consider a 40 hour work week x50 weeks=2900. Comparable. And the pay is probably less than someone else with a 4 to 6 year degree.

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  8. All the above arguments are understandable, but with the current census data, are there really enough children in the county to warrant any increases in taxes. According to the census data for 2010 there are currently 543k people living in Brevard County.

    Of these numbers there is approx 19% below the age of 18, 4.8% below the age of 5, 20% over 65. You see the problem, plus with the space shuttle gone and nothing to replace it anytime soon, who wants to work here. There are only a few companies of interest that have decent wages.

    So unless you are retired, enjoy working for minimum wage, or only needed part time employment, where are you going to get the tax base to pay for education. And when you compare these statistics against the rest of the state. We are sadly behind the curve. And to add insult to injury, with the latest fiscal cliff deal, social security taxes going back up to 6.2%, everyone medical insurance went up approx. $50.00 per pay period, I don't want any more taxes. I am barely breaking even as it is.

    The best bet is to close the schools that aren't needed, eliminate the overpaid administration, use more online classes (or setup schools that use fewer teachers) and allow students to take online classes in a school setting while allowing a smaller number of teachers to help those that actually want to be taught.

    In the state of Florida its more important to pass the FCAT than it is to get an actual education. How many of our children are actually prepared for college...

    So no to more taxes, make due with what you have just like the rest of have to do. Worst case if parents want a better education for their children, the will move from the area. They will find better educational benefits and employment some place else.

    Happy New Year

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    1. SO you are so over-burdoned you cannot afford 12 to 20 dollars a year?

      Nonsense, you are greedy and short-sighted.

      You clearly know NOTHING about education and your ideas will only make it worse.

      The reason FCAT testing is important is George W Bush and an awful piece of work he crafted called No Child Left Behind. It is as simple as that. Bush tied test scores to fed education funding.

      Computers are good at practicing for tests and for drill and kill but they are not teachers and quite frankly are not adequate replacements for teachers. My kid is in Brevard schools, have you seen the ancient windows machines they have? One word for em: JUNK. How are you going to fund all this technology when we cannot even keep schools open?

      Want to know what is PROVEN to be effective in k-12 education? Smaller class sizes increase student performance. Local neighborhood schools with after school programs REDUCE crime and drug use amongst youth.

      Sorry but Florida is not even close to the top in education and it is because of ignorant misers like you. Your proposals, much like the school boards are bad for kids, bad for the future of America. Now get off my lawn you old coot..

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  9. Florida is WAY behind in education, I agree. The FCAT, while in theory sounds like a good measurement, is a joke. I would love to see that test dropped. If I don't move away after this, the state is my next target. I love that my daughter's school does not revolve around FCAT preparation. That is NOT teaching.

    If those who have the means move, it will further damage Brevard County, leaving behind those with less than. The possibility of new companies will be even less. How bad will it get?

    To me, an extra $12.50 per year for our children's education is well worth it.

    Again, closing schools is found to cost MORE. So why close schools? Which ones do you close? A successful one? A failing one? One with children whose families have very little resources, thus will put up less of a political public fight? Their children will be bused from 45-60 minutes to an out of area school. Is this acceptable for a 5 year old to sit on a bus potentially for 2 hours every day, when their previous school was literally across the street?

    By the way, I do appreciate the respectful conversation. Happy New Year to you, too.

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    1. To me, the extra $12.50 per year per breathing adult is not needed for our children's education.

      Many school districts across the nation have proven over 100 years that more money taken from taxpayers does not mean better education. Vic

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    2. Randall,

      I bet my life that minorities would NOT agree with your statement "over 100 years that more money taken from taxpayers does not mean better education."

      One hundred years ago, education was NOT provided to all of our citizens. So, yes, they INDEED has received a better education in the second half of those 100 years.

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  10. Hey let me know when I can collect the 4 month vacation.!!!!!!!! I've been in education all my adult life and I do not get paid for the summers off as many contend....... a common bit of misinformation.

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  11. FYI The FCAT IS going away.... a new test is slated to replace it and now lots and lots of training is required........... $$$$$$

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  12. This tax increase proposal should be defeated if brought in front of taxpayers.

    Reducing costs, both operating and capital, is the only way that all taxpayers in Brevard County, FL will survive this rapidly declining economy in the United States.

    We are broke as a country. Everyone needs to tighten their belts, even Brevard Public Schools.

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  13. We agree that some cuts should be made, but they should not be made at the expense of our children.

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  14. The school chosen to be closed are not under enrolled! They want to move adult Ed centers (GED's, basic adult eductaion) They picked locations in the county, not cities, so there would be less push back. These centers have high crime rates (South adult ed had 30calls to Mel PD in 10 months.) Relocateing this from commerical spaces to residental spaces will take that number triple fold, not to mention now endangering residence.So regaurdless if you support a new tax or not, you will be paying for Brevard sherriff to respond.

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  15. Amazing that people suddenly want to get involved in education. Schools have tried and tried to get the word out and no one shows up for a budget meeting... they have warned through newspapers, newsletters and parent meetings, but people are too busy to stop and take a minute to find out how dire it is in education. The state does NOT provide the funding it should, and they purposely put it on the taxpayers to cough up the extra sales tax. That way they can stay out of trouble by increasing any taxes. Now suddenly people want to be on a citizen oversight committee. Educators will welcome any involvement...just too bad it only comes when things are at this point. I am not in Brevard's education system, but have watched the lack of involvement in so many systems and Brevard tries hard through parent/community groups but still has so little support. Kudos to those in the system that work hard for the children - teachers and administrators!

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  16. Christine, I think you will find that previous cuts that were made (going back four years or so) have spared the impact on the students. It is now at the point that nothing else can be cut. Safety is always first - people are quick to say fewer administrators - but who handles the crisis if it occurs? Other places to cut??? It has already been done....glad you want to get involved - but be ready to realize that it is already been cut to the core.

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  17. Randall, if you did your homework you would see just how much has already been reduced. Nothing else to cut but things that will impact the kids. The "belt tightening" began with Dr. DiPatri and Dr. Binggeli has carried it on as best as possible. Too bad parents and community could have been concerned a few months ago.

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  18. Cut the air conditioner and heat for the fat little jelly beans!


    Wear coats when its cold and swim trunks when its hot.


    My electric bill is too high to pay for somebody else!


    Cut the air and cure childhood obesity, the sugar, and everything else!


    There was no air when I went to school. We drank from garden hoses, not expensive cooled water fountains that cost more and take electricity.

    My parents would never ask for someone else to pay their electric.


    Why pay for air? they get fat, then get the sugar, then I have to pay for their Obama Care. Makes no sense.

    I wear layers when it is cold and go to a store with AC if I am hot.

    Stores don't even sell bruised food at a discount anymore. The jelly beans get hot lunch too! I have no money to pay more house taxes!

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  19. no more tax increases. The Taj Mahal performing arts center at Cocoa Beach High was not the best use of the taxpayers money, and they want more? I say NO!

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