A referendum on the ballot in August is really important for Monroe County schools

July 25 – In order to retain teachers and keep children well-educated, the Monroe County School District is looking to shift some money from their capital coffers to general operations and they need YOUR help to do it at the ballot box in August.  

Andy Griffiths, school board member for Monroe County schools, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to discuss the upcoming referendum on the ballot.

Griffiths said, “It’s all I’m going to talk about until August 23 when I know this is behind us, but it’s probably the most important thing facing the school board.”

These kinds of referendums happen generally every four years.

Griffiths said, “We weren’t going to do it again until 2024, but the legislature changed the law that we had to hold the millage election in the general election which is in November and so there’s no time to have a ballot question in November for the tax collectors to hand out the tax notices, so you would lose that year’s worth of revenue. Actually two because you can only have millage elections during even years.”

So this millage election is two years early.

In 2004, the legislature gave school boards the ability to go to the voters to raise more money and pay teachers more competitively.

Monroe County School District did something a bit unique. Rather than just simply levy a new tax and take the money, the board took a look at the millage for capital goods, like buildings. The tax at that time was 1.0.

The board said a .5 tax can be added for general operations, but they would lower the capital tax by the exact same amount.

Griffiths said, “In effect what that did, it took millions of dollars out of the brick and mortar account and put it into the people account. So it’s a wash, it’s a switch, it’s a swap. There’s no increase in taxes for doing this. It simply gives the school board more flexibility, spends less on bricks and mortar and more on people.”

The school district is looking to do the same thing this year. It will take $18.4 million from the capital account and add it to the people account. With 1,200 employees, it’s just shy of $13,000 per employee.

Griffiths said, “I couldn’t begin to imagine running the district with $18 million less dollars. That would be a catastrophic adjustment. The people would obviously suffer, many would lose their jobs, but the students would suffer because we wouldn’t have the support there for students and competitive salaries in the classroom and people that assist our teachers that are doing the real work in the classroom. It would be a devastating effect on us. Don’t want to scare anybody, but it would be really, really serious. The voters have approved this every year. They seem to understand what it is, but we are doing it two years early.”

The safety and security millage for the police in every school is also in the referendum.

Griffiths said, “Hopefully the voters get it and continue to get it and we’ll have a positive outcome on August 23.”

Mike Stapleford of KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM said, “I can’t imagine why a voter would not be in favor of this.”

Griffiths said, “My family votes and asks me about things on the ballot and it can be confusing. Everybody reads things from a different vantage point, processes information differently. I honestly think it’s just if someone doesn’t understand it or if they just really don’t like teachers or something like that. I don’t know why we don’t get 100 percent, but it is what it is.”

Stapleford noted, “All of the students are the future of the community, no doubt about it. It needs to be something that the whole community comes together and supports.”

For more information, call 305-797-2639 or log onto https://www.keysschools.com/