The Charlotte County School Board approved the tax rate and tentative budget for the 2020/2021 school year Thursday evening.
The tentative budget is $350 million, an increase of $24 million from last year’s official budget.
The budgeted general fund (operating budget) is $186 million, an increase of $11 million from last year. The majority of this money is used for day-to-day operations of the school district and includes staff salaries and benefits as well as utilities, fuel and other materials. The budget reflects an estimated increase in student enrollment as well as 10 new staff positions. Funds would also be used for construction and remodeling, maintenance, renovation and repair, motor vehicle purchases, and new/replacement equipment.
“Approximately 53% of our total fund makes up the general fund,” said Chief Financial Officer Greg Griner. “The second largest area is for capital projects, followed by debt service, special revenues and our service fund, which is basically our employee health benefit program.”
Board member Cara Reynolds asked Griner if there are concerns about the state allocating less funds due to the current economic climate.
“Realistically, I don’t see it affecting us this year,” Griner said. “We have reserves built into the budget should we need them to cover costs. The problem comes if next year’s legislature calls for further cuts.”
The proposed millage rate is $6.92 per $1,000 of taxable value, a slight decrease from last year’s rate of $7.14.
For a home with a taxable value of $100,000, the school district’s portion of your bill would decrease from $714 to $692.
“Although this was advertised in the paper as a tax increase, it is actually a reduction from last year’s millage rate, meaning lower property taxes for homeowners,” said School Board member Ian Vincent.
In 2018, Charlotte County voters passed a referendum for Charlotte County School District millage to increase by one mill, beginning in 2019 and ending through 2023 to maintain the quality of the public schools.
The total funding is a mix of federal, state and local dollars. Last year Charlotte’s budget was 29.2% local, 70.8% state. In order to get the state money, each district must chip in with property taxes. The county received just one percent from federal funds last year.
John Jordan, president of the Charlotte Florida Education Association, voiced his concerns of students and staff safety regarding the reopening of schools.
“We’re working to craft a solution that takes important steps to keep students and staff safe and healthy, and that gives our community more public education options, than an all-or-nothing choice between brick-and-mortar and virtual school,” Jordan said.
The Board also approved to revise the 2020/2021 school calendar stating that students will return to school on Aug. 31.
The final budget will be approved at a hearing in September.