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$800 million school bond now under discussion

$800 million school bond now under discussion

Broward School District Superintendent Robert Runcie is working to promote an $800 million bond to the residents of Broward County. They will get a chance to vote on the bond on November 4.

Runcie said that if the bond passes, more than $100 million of the money will be spent on Hollywood schools. This would be the largest portion of any Broward city. “This is based on the needs of Hollywood schools. Many of the buildings in the City are older and some maintenance has been deferred.”

But Runcie does not want people to think too locally regarding the budget. Many Hollywood students attend magnet schools in other cities and there are students from outside the City who attend magnet programs in Hollywood.

If voters approve the bond, students will see substantial upgrades to technology in the schools. There will be much higher level of computer and high technology instruction in their classes. Now, there is one computer for five students. The goal is to increase the number of computers in the system so that eventually there is one computer for each student.

“Most testing is done online. The bond will have a significant impact on technology in every school,” said Runcie. “There will be more opportunities for students in art, music and athletics. There will be more music equipment for students,” said Runcie.

  Most of the bond money will to the improvement of the school facilities. The money will be used to repair and replace roofs, walls and air conditioning systems. Also, money will be put toward the funding of construction of a single point of entry for every Broward County school. Also improvements will made to each school’s sprinkler system, fire alarms and emergency lighting. 

“We want to make sure that every school is healthy and safe. Having one point of entry will improve safety and we want to make sure the indoor air quality of each school is of the highest quality. We want all schools to be in good condition,” said Runcie.

Runcie emphasized that the bond will address critical needs in the school system. “Every school is going to get some impact,” said Runcie. “We will do a comprehensive assessment on every campus. We may replace some buildings if we determine it will cost more fix the building rather than build a new one.” 

Runcie emphasized that the process has been transparent and that the bond is needed to repair and improve schools. Community meetings are taking place to education members of the community on the importance of the bond to education. There will be seven town hall like meetings called “A Conversation with the District” from September 8 through October 27 at various district high schools. There will be one at Hollywood Hills High School on September 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

This bond is needed by the school system. In May 2008, the Florida Legislature reduced the tax on property values that provides capital revenues for school districts to address facility and equipment needs from $2 per $1,000 of taxable value to $1.75. In 2009, the legislature further reduced the tax rate by another 25 cents, to $1.50 per $1,000 of taxable value. Because of this loss, the Broward County school system was forced to cut $1.8 billion in capital projects for schools and facilities. 

This means that Broward taxpayers are spending less on education than in previous years. Forty percent of the District’s school buildings are more than 25 years old and the average age is 27 years old. In all buildings, roofs, air conditioners, electrical systems and plumbing have a limited lifespan and need repair or replacement.

A Broward County homeowner with a home valued at $225,000 will realize an average increase in capital outlay tax of $50 per year over the life of the bond. The homeowner’s capital outlay tax will be about $127 less per year than it was in 2007. This means the homeowner will pay about 26 percent less in capital outlay than seven years ago. 
 
A Broward County condominium owner with a condominium valued at $105,000 will realize and average increase in capital outlay tax of $20 per year over the life of the bonds. This is $72 less per year than it was in 2007. This means that the condominium owner will still be paying 33 percent less in capital outlay tax than seven years ago.

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