Charlotte School Board
finalizes budget, millage rates
PORT CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte County School Board unanimously approved the final budget and millage rates for the 2012-2013 school year at a regular meeting Tuesday night.
“We’ve spent months of really hashing things out and prioritizing this budget,” said School Board Chairwoman Andrea Messina. “Tonight we are making this decision look easy, but the road to get here was a rough one.”
Property owners can expect to see about a 2 percent increase in taxes, or a hike of 0.147 mills from last year. One mill is equivalent to $1 tax for every $1,000 in taxable value.
On a home assessed at $175,000, which includes homestead exemption, school taxes will be around $1,300, or $25 more than last year.
While the district’s discretionary millage rate will not change, an increase in the required local effort will bring the millage rate from 7.3440 last year to 7.4910 this year. The RLE, which is set by the Florida Legislature annually, is a portion of property taxes divided equally among school districts across the state to ensure equal funding per student regardless of where the student resides.
About 66 percent of the total school district budget comes from local property taxes.
School Board member Alleen Miller commended the finance department on a job well done. Board members Lee Swift and Barbara Rendell were absent from the meeting.
Teacher salaries make up 59 percent of general fund appropriations, while only 7 percent funds administrative employees, according to a report released by the finance department.
The district’s $242 million total budget includes a transfer of $2 million from the Special Revenue Fund, which consists of insurance and Federal Emergency Management Agency funds leftover from the damage to district buildings caused by Hurricane Charley.
The amount of capital projects that will be taken on by the district has been greatly decreased. Only
18 percent of the budget will fund new construction. The majority of those funds will be allocated to the completion of Lemon Bay High School’s reconstruction in Englewood, an undertaking of $21.9 million. The district has completed four of six phases of the project.
“I remember a time when 50 percent of our budget funded capital projects,” said Messina. “Times have certainly changed.”
The district faced a budget shortfall of $3.3 million less than last year, a deficit that was corrected by implementing mandatory furlough days for administrative employees. Teacher planning periods were also eliminated for half of the year.
The new furloughs will affect about 200 district workers including supervisors, administrators, managers and technical personnel. Those employees lost one personal day a year and were placed on a sliding scale of single days they will be required to take off without compensation – the equivalent of a 2 percent pay cut. Union employees and food service managers are exempt.
Last year, teachers received a pay cut of nearly 4.5 percent. The district also reduced the number of physical education teachers and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math teachers at elementary schools.