More Hillsborough teachers salary to be decided at ballot box – patch | Candle Made Easy

Hillsborough County, FL – Facing a critical shortage of teachers, bus drivers and other school staff while dealing with a rising number of students relocating to Hillsborough County, one of the fastest growing areas in the country, the school district is asking from Hillsborough County voters opening their wallets.

The district plans to hold a referendum on August 23 asking voters to approve a $1 million tax hike for schools. Without funding from the tax referendum, Superintendent Addison Davis said Hillsborough County’s schools could lose some of their most talented teachers.

Davis said the tax referendum is intended to bring Hillsborough County on a level playing field with other counties, including 21 counties in Florida, that have already approved a tax referendum to attract teachers with higher salaries.

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After the difficulties of teaching during the coronavirus pandemic and battling rising inflation rates, Davis said there has been a mass exodus of educators from the teaching profession to private sector higher-paying jobs.

“From our teachers to the support staff to our principals to our district staff, we’re just trying to find a way to keep up,” he said.

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Hillsborough County Public Schools currently have more than 220,000 students and 23,815 school staff, including 14,181 teachers.

However, at various times during the school year, the district is short of 400 teachers and about 575 support staff, he said. The problem worsened during the pandemic. In the past two years, layoffs and retirements have created more than 1,000 job vacancies in the school district, according to Davis.

The $1 million increase would bring in approximately $146 million annually over a four-year period from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2027.

One million equals $1 per $1,000 of taxable property value.

If the referendum is approved, homeowners face an additional payment:

  • $125 per year for a $150,000 home
  • $175 a year for a $200,000 home
  • $225 per year for a $250,000 home
  • $275 a year for a $300,000 home

Davis said about 75 percent of those funds would be used to increase salaries for teachers, media specialists and consultants, bus drivers and transportation assistants, classroom assistants and non-teaching support staff.

He said he hopes to increase teachers’ salaries by an average of $4,000 a year and assistants’ salaries by an average of $2,000 a year.

The remaining funds would be used for arts, music and physical education programs, including hiring 45 art teachers, 67 music teachers and 37 elementary-level physical education teachers.

Taxpayers’ money is also being used to expand middle school health classes and to purchase art supplies, musical instruments, band uniforms, audiovisual equipment and physical education equipment.

In addition, the school district hopes to use taxpayer dollars to fund staff development and education programs, including training in air conditioning and refrigeration, plumbing, construction, electrical, nursing, and physical therapy programs.

While Gov. Ron DeSantis has earmarked $800 million in the 2022 budget to raise teacher salaries to $47,500 a year, Davis said the increase will only affect a third of the state’s teachers.

“Experienced teachers received little raises, and many earned the same or a little more than prospective teachers, making a significant difference,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons why our experienced teachers leave the profession.”

School district officials have toured the county to explain the referendum to voters and gather support.

Among the key questions raised at the first two meetings, July 11 at Middleton High School and July 13 at Armwood High School, is why the school district is seeking more funding when voters were straight four years ago approved a halfpenny sales tax.

The half-penny sales tax, approved in 2018, will bring in $121-$131 million per year for 10 years. However, Davis said money could only be spent on capital improvements for schools, such as For example, replacing air conditioners, installing new roofs, and repairing parking lots and sidewalks.

The next community meetings will take place:

  • July 20 at Sumner High School from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
  • July 25 at Alonso High School from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
  • July 27 at Riverview High School from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m
  • Virtual meetings will take place on August 1 at 12 p.m. and 5:30 p.m
  • August 2nd at Gaither High School from 6am to 7:30pm 6pm to 7:30pm

To cast a vote in the primaries, voters must be registered by July 25. Early voting will take place from August 8th to 21st. Information about the electors can be found on the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website.

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