2018/2019 - Strengthen Our Schools ֠Half Penny for Education

They saved the best for last!

The half penny for education on the November 6th ballot is the last item on the ballot – after the candidates and 12 amendments! Please vote for the last item first to make sure you don’t miss it. 

The half penny for education will invest over $1 billion over 10 years into capital improvements for our schools. The effort to Strengthen our Schools will raise $131 million each year for 10 years. The funds raised will be dedicated to fixing urgent needs such as fixing or replacing air conditioners, leaking roofs, upgrading classroom technology, and enhancing school safety.

The funding will be overseen by a committee of seven community members chaired by Betty Castor (former USF President, Florida Education Commissioner) and vice chair Chad Chronister (Hillsborough County Sheriff). The Oversight Committee will review the spending and make sure the projects stay on their projected time schedules. Every school will receive a minimum of $500,000 in improvements. Each school has a list of projects on the District website and a timeline. See below for Walker Middle Magnet’s projects and the high schools Walker feeds.

 https://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/docs/00/00/23/08/Education_Referendum_School_by_School_List_v2.pdf

In the past, the District has been hit with financial challenges from a variety of sources. First, in the late 90’s seventy new schools were built as a result of rapid population growth in our county and those are still being paid off. When the economy tanked in 2008, the state reduced the property tax millage rate by 25%, funds that were for maintenance and construction. Also, the state legislature diverted substantial funds from PECO dollars (meant for maintenance and construction) to charter schools despite the fact that 11% of Florida students attend charters while 89% attend public schools. Now Hillsborough County faces a $1 billion shortfall in deferred maintenance, including 40 air conditioners needed immediately. In addition, the district is facing another round of huge growth in the east part of the county with 32 new schools needed over the next 15 years.

Other counties have made up for these shortfalls by increasing their sales tax, their millage or both. Along the I4 corridor, Hillsborough County is the only county that hasn’t passed a referendum for education. This puts us at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting businesses and families interested in moving to the central Florida area.  

The state of Florida is ranked 44th for per pupil education spending (we were 27th in 1998) and last year the legislature only increased base education spending by 47 cents. Despite this Hillsborough County is increasing graduation rates, ranks in the top of large districts nationwide, and continues to close the achievement gaps in education among disadvantaged students.

But we are at a tipping point – we cannot continue to educate students properly in inadequate environments. Children can’t learn in schools without air conditioning. Please support the half penny referendum when you vote!

Walker Middle School Years 1 to 5: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Fire Evacuation Improvements, Replace Stage Lighting, School Exterior Painting and Waterproofing Project Years 6 to 10: Generator Project, Replace Fire Alarm System, Sand and Recondition Gym Floor, School Interior Repainting Project

High Schools that Walker students feed:

Steinbrenner High School Years 1 to 5: Elevator Modernization, Fire Evacuation Improvements, Generator Project, Repave Athletic Tracks, Sand and Recondition Gym Floor, Wheelchair Lift Years 6 to 10: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Outdoor Court Replacement, School Exterior Painting and Waterproofing Project

Sickles High School Years 1 to 5: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Elevator Modernization, Fire Evacuation Improvements, Pre-K Playground Replacement, Repave Athletic Tracks, Replace Aging Roof, Replace Public Address System Years 6 to 10: Outdoor Court Replacement, School Interior Repainting Project

Hillsborough High School Years 1 to 5: Fire Evacuation Improvements, Replace Aging Roof, Replace Intercom System, Replace Public Address System, Replace Telephone System, Upgrade Classroom Network Infrastructure Years 6 to 10: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Elevator Modernization, Generator Project, Repave Athletic Tracks, Sand and Recondition Gym Floor, School Interior Repainting Project

Gaither High School Years 1 to 5: Fire Evacuation Improvements, Generator Project, Repave Athletic Tracks, Replace Public Address System, Sand and Recondition Gym Floor, School Exterior Painting and Waterproofing Project Years 6 to 10: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Elevator Modernization, Outdoor Court Replacement

Alonso High School Years 1 to 5: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Generator Project, Pre-K Playground Replacement, Replace Fire Alarm System, School Exterior Painting and Waterproofing Project, School Interior Repainting Project Years 6 to 10: Repave Athletic Tracks

Robinson Elementary School Years 1 to 5: Air Conditioning Replacement or Overhaul, Electrical Upgrade, Pre-K Playground Replacement, Replace Aging Roof, Replace Stage Lighting, Window Replacement Years 6 to 10: Pre-K Playground Replacement

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