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SARASOTA — The Sarasota County School Board passed a budget of nearly $900 million for the upcoming school year by a 3-2 vote Tuesday evening.

What is the budget for the 2020-2021 school year?

The total expenditures estimated for the next school year is $899,836,736.

The expenditures are broken down into six categories: general fund, debt service, capital projects, special revenue, internal service, and trust and agency.

The largest category is the general fund, which makes up $506,985,427 of the overall budget; 56.59% of this is allocated to salaries.

At the School Board meeting Tuesday evening, the final budget passed 3-2, with board members Bridget Ziegler and Eric Robinson voting not to pass the budget.

Ziegler expressed concerns about the amount allocated for capital projects.

“We want to make sure we’re being as fiscally conservative as we can,” she said, citing the difficult time the coronavirus pandemic brought upon the district’s revenue.

Robinson raised concerns over the lack of equitable funding, meaning Title I schools in North Port should receive more funding, than an “A” school, that is doing fine, he said.

“It’s frustrating we didn’t amend the budget, considering there will be a loss of revenue,” Robinson said, citing the revenue the district will lose as a result of an estimated 800 students not returning to brick-and-mortar school.

Robinson said the district budgeted for 90 staff members who won’t be hired, due to the anticipated loss of students.

“Our revenues are overstated and our expenses are overstated,” he said. “That’s how we’re going to balance out”

What was the approved millage rate?

The millage rate was approved at 6.975 mills. The millage rate is calculated at $1 for every $1,000 of assessed taxable property value. For a property valued at $200,000, taxes are an estimated $1,395 for the year. The newly proposed millage rate is up slightly from last year’s millage rate of 6.943.

A property with an assessed value of $200,000 is estimated at about $6 more than last year, with the first $25,000 in property value exempt.

This does not include property taxes from additional governments, like Sarasota County, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, or cities like North Port and Venice.

The next School Board workshop will be at 9 a.m. on Tuesday Sept. 15, with the School Board meeting at 3 p.m.

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