Sarasota County school board members voted to spend more than
$400,000 for a special referendum in March. Its for a continuation of a
which brings in millions to the county's schools. School board
it's necessary, but some now say even the election itself is a waste of
money. They also said waiting until November 2014 wouldn't have saved a
Waiting until November 2014 wouldn't have saved a lot? "We need
to be saving
that kind of money. If you think a half a million dollars is nothing
that's why our budget is close to a billion dollars." Walt
a group called Better Sarasota Schools for Less say the real reason the
board chose the more expensive route is because there will be less
turnout. Increasing the odds of success as district employees and
students do show up. "Lets not try to slip something past the public.
get their input. Lets let most of the voters come out in November and
how they feel."
"We cannot lose $40 million." School board chair Jane Goodwin
reason it has to be in March is because it's set to expire before
"If we do not have that all together and approved by July 1st we miss a
year or maybe more of those dollars for our operating budget."
The tax which would cost the average homeowner about $200 a
year has been
passed in special elections three previous times. Augustinowicz says
could have changed it long ago. "They've had four years to figure out
they could do differently to save the tax payer next time."
Goodwin says paying for the less popular election might
actually save money.
"In a general election to get our message out we would have to spend
than $400,000 on that campaign."
She says the tax has helped them become one of only five "A"
the state with better student performance. "These things are done
have great teachers. We pay our teachers well.
The loss she says would have a impact on more then grades. "650
already lost their jobs. Can we stand for another 500 people to lose
jobs? That's really what it is about. Our economy."
Augustinowicz says they will now work to show the school board
can save without the extra tax. All while campaigning against the
referendum. Something they also tried to do four years ago. "I think
at the very least the public will vote no just because they don't want
see them waste a half a million dollars and in the future put it on the
The school district says the special election will be held in
Easter. That's when many of our part time residents head back home.
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