PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte County School Board said its committed to being held accountable.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, Charlotte County resident David Boswell spoke to express reservations about the treatment of teachers in the county.

He told the board teachers need better pay, and their work environment needs to improve, from a management level as well.

“I will hold you all accountable,” he said, stating that if the salaries did not increase, he would take it upon himself to see that none of the current board members are re-elected.

Boswell’s concerns revolve around how the School Board will spend revenue from the tax referendum approved by voters in November.

The referendum will bring an estimated $17 million to the district, and will cost taxpayers $1 for every $1,000 of assessed value for their home. Taxpayers, however, will not see the charge on their bills until October or November. The district won’t have the money until January 2020.

Typically, board member Kim Amontree said, the board does not respond to citizen comment, but she took the time to speak to Boswell and clarify that half of the referendum dollars would go toward salaries and benefits.

“I applaud you for saying that you’re going to hold us accountable, because I’m going to hold us accountable,” Board member Ian Vincent said.

To meet that goal, the board has sent out a request to local organizations asking each to name a committee member to oversee how revenue from the new tax referendum is spent.

Requests for representatives were sent to the following: the Port Charlotte, Englewood, and Punta Gorda chambers, League of Women Voters, Charlotte County Support Personnel Association, Charlotte Florida Education Association, High School School Advisory Council, Middle School School Advisory County, Elementary School Advisory County, Charlotte DeSoto Building Industry Association, Charlotte County Economic Development Partnership, and Punta Gorda Port Charlotte-North Port Association of Realtors.

It was decided that the 11th member of the committee be a citizen-at-large who is rotated annually.

The district has six members for the committee: Tony Smith, president elect of the Charlotte County chamber, who will represent the three chambers of commerce; Jane Merriam for the League of Women Voters; Gina Pennypacker for CCSPA; Michelle Taylor for high school SAC; Adam Heeg for middle school SAC; and Paul Trabucchi for the elementary SAC.

All representatives will serve on the committee for one year on a rotating basis, except the League of Women Voters, whose term is four years.

Jane Merriam, who will represent the League of Women Voters, said she has long had an interest in the school system. She has been a volunteer for the Charlotte Local Education Foundation.

School Board members continued the discussion about the committee at their January workshop meeting. There is no calendar finalized. Chairman Bob Segur said the board’s intent is for everything to be transparent.

The district is waiting for responses from the remaining organizations.

Superintendent Steve Dionisio said the next step would be for him and his team to meet with the committee in February. The first meeting is anticipated to take place in March.


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