Broward school tax referendum could lead to better teacher pay, safer schools, mental health initiatives — or not — CBS Miami

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — Broward taxpayers will be asked to dig deeper in August and hold a referendum to help fund teachers’ extra pay, school safety and mental health initiatives.

The ‘Secure The Next Generation Referendum’ was first approved by Broward voters in 2018 and is set to expire.

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Voters will decide whether or not to renew the referendum during the primary on August 23, 2022.

The tax rate would double, meaning if your home is assessed at $400,000, you would pay $275 in school property tax, about double what it is now.

Funds from the 2018 referendum enabled the hiring of 500 school safety personnel, 100 mental health professionals and $82 million in salary supplements for teachers and staff, according to the school district.

On Tuesday, the Broward School Board will vote on the distribution of funds if voters approve the referendum renewal.

Currently, the proposal is to split the money as follows: 75% for extra pay for teachers and staff, 18% for public safety and 7% for essential services like mental health initiatives.

“The initiative has done a lot of good,” Broward Schools spokesman John Sullivan said.

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“We don’t have the funds and the legislature doesn’t provide the money,” he said, stressing the need for voters to approve the renewal.

Broward veteran teacher Jim Gard says overall teacher salaries have held steady. He marks 41 years as a teacher and currently teaches math at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek.

“It’s good to be a math teacher because I can budget, but it should be more,” he said.

Broward teachers start at $47,500 per year. Nationally, the average salary is around $65,000 per year.

The Gard hopes voters will support the referendum not just for teachers, but for Broward communities as a whole.

“I was at Stoneman Douglas when the shooting happened. They have 16 or 18 security guards now. This thing fails, they’re gone.

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They will be gone because if the referendum fails, the district will have to cut back or find other ways to fund extra teachers’ salaries, increased school safety and mental health counselors.

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