St. Petersburg Times
 tampabaycom
tampabay.com
Print storySubscribe to the Times

Pinellas

PINELLAS SCHOOL TAX REFERENDUM

Raising teachers' salaries: A proposal would bring teachers' pay closer to the national average and finance other programs.

By THOMAS TOBIN
Published October 26, 2004

Pinellas voters face a tough question: Do Florida public schools have enough money?

That's the core issue before the electorate as they consider a proposed property tax increase for Pinellas schools.

The measure on next Tuesday's ballot asks voters whether the property tax should be raised by 50 cents for every $1,000 of assessed taxable value, primarily to pay for teacher raises.

For a home assessed at $150,000 with a $25,000 homestead exemption, the tax would cost an extra $62.50 a year, or $5.21 a month.

The tax would last four years, generating about $26-million a year. Eighty percent of it would go toward the School Board's goal of bringing teacher salaries closer to the national average of $49,000.

The remaining 20 percent would go to technology, arts, music and reading programs. An independent citizens group would monitor how the money is spent.

At present, Pinellas' 8,200 teachers earn an average of about $41,000 a year. One-third of them earn less than $35,000. Twenty-seven percent earn more than $50,000.

The School Board approved the ballot measure 6-1, arguing that Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature have vastly underfunded public schools - failing to keep pace with health insurance premiums and other spiraling costs.

The governor and legislators have decided to pay for a constitutional amendment to reduce class sizes without raising taxes.

The amendment means Pinellas must hire 100 more teachers each year to meet new pupil-teacher ratios. That doesn't include the 600 teachers the district must hire each year to fill normal vacancies.

Pinellas says it has managed its finances well, considering the tough financial climate. But skeptics say the district has yet to prove the need for the new tax.

School Board member Nancy Bostock, who voted against the measure, has argued for a comprehensive financial review of the district.

The tax also would expire after four years and could create a budget crisis because by then teachers would have become accustomed to higher salaries supported by the initial measure. Supporters say the district would use the four years to lobby the state to increase funding for education.

At present, Pinellas teachers earn more than teachers in the other four Tampa Bay area counties. The measure would raise Pinellas salaries an average of $2,500 a year.

Proponents, however, say the issue is keeping salaries competitive as Pinellas seeks teaching talent from a dwindling pool of recruits across the nation. Pinellas teachers have had years of minimal raises.

"You get into a kind of facetious argument on what you can live on," said Bill Heller, chairman of Citizens for Pinellas Schools, a group promoting the measure. "They live on it and they subsist on it. But I would ask, "Is that appropriate for a society like ours to accept that?"'

Approval Of An Additional One-Half Mill Ad Valorem Tax For School District Operating Expenses

Shall the Pinellas County school district ad valorem millage be increased by a total of one-half mill for necessary operating expenses including funds to recruit and retain quality teachers; preserve reading programs and music and art classes; and provide up-to-date textbooks and technology beginning July 1, 2005, and ending four fiscal years later on June 30, 2009, with oversight of these expenditures by an independent citizens financial oversight committee?

[Last modified October 24, 2004, 12:52:52]

Know your candidates

Citrus
  • CITRUS COMM 1
  • CITRUS COMM 5
  • CITRUS PROPERTY APPRAISER
  • CITRUS SCHOOL BD 4
  • CITRUS SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 5
  • CITRUS SUPT SCHOOLS
  • CRYSTAL RIVER CC 1
  • CRYSTAL RIVER CC 3
  • CRYSTAL RIVER CC 5
  • U.S. HOUSE 5
  • CITRUS COUNTY SHERIFF

  • Citrus County
  • STATE SENATE 3

  • Citrus-Hernando
  • 5TH DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL JUDGES
  • STATE HOUSE 43

  • Congress
  • U.S. HOUSE 11

  • Hernando
  • 5th CIRCUIT JUDGE 10
  • BROOKSVILLE CC 2
  • BROOKSVILLE CC 3
  • HERNANDO COMM 1
  • HERNANDO COMM 3
  • HERNANDO COMM 5
  • HERNANDO SCHOOL BD 2
  • STATE SENATE 15
  • HERNANDO COUNTY SHERIFF

  • Hillsborough
  • HILLSBOROUGH CLERK OF CIRC CT
  • HILLSBOROUGH COMM 2
  • HILLSBOROUGH COMM 4
  • HILLSBOROUGH COMM 6
  • HILLSBOROUGH COMM 7
  • HILLSBOROUGH JUDGE 11
  • HILLSBOROUGH REFERENDUM
  • HILLSBOROUGH SCH BD 1
  • HILLSBOROUGH WRITE-IN RACES
  • HLLSBOROUGH SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS
  • TEMPLE TERRACE CITY COUNCIL
  • U.S. HOUSE 12
  • HILLSBOROUGH PUBLIC DEFENDER
  • STATE HOUSE 47
  • STATE HOUSE 57
  • STATE HOUSE 58
  • STATE HOUSE 60
  • TEMPLE TERRACE MAYOR

  • Hillsborough-Pasco
  • STATE HOUSE 62

  • Pasco
  • PASCO COUNTY CLERK OF CIRCUIT COURT
  • PASCO COMM
  • PASCO COMM 3
  • PASCO COMM 5
  • PASCO SCHOOL BD 2
  • PASCO SHERIFF
  • PASCO SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
  • PASCO SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS
  • STATE SENATE 11
  • STATE HOUSE 44
  • STATE HOUSE 46

  • Pinellas
  • 2ND COURT OF APPEAL JUDGES
  • LARGO CHARTER AMENDMENT
  • PINELLAS CHARTER AMENDMENTS
  • PINELLAS CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT
  • PINELLAS COMM 1
  • PINELLAS COMM 3
  • PINELLAS COMM 7
  • PINELLAS SCHOOL TAX REFERENDUM
  • PINELLAS SHERIFF
  • ST. PETE REFERENDUMS
  • ST. PETERSBURG REFERENDUMS
  • STATE HOUSE 45
  • STATE HOUSE 51
  • STATE HOUSE 52
  • TREASURE ISLAND REFERENDUM
  • U.S. HOUSE 10

  • Pinellas-Pasco
  • PINELLAS-PASCO CIRCUIT JUDGE GROUP 22

  • State
  • U.S. Senate
  • FLORIDA SUPREME COURT JUSTICES
  • Gambling, malpractice top amendment list

  • U.S.
  • PRESIDENT
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111