WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — One year ago, voters in Palm Beach County passed a referendum to increase property taxes to benefit the school district. The measure passed with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Now, the school district is showing how that money is being used.
One of the biggest pieces of the pie goes to school security. With the tax increase, the school district says it can now invest $20 million more a year for school safety to go toward their $60 million school safety budget.
That includes about 110 additional officers (school resource officers, detectives, K-9s, trainers and sergeants), support staff, computer hardware, software, vehicles, equipment and supplies.
It also includes 50 school police aides to extend coverage, continued funding for 55 school security monitors, continued funding for additional overtime and services at high school football games and increased security allocations for various school events.
- $20 million is going to support mental heath resources. That includes one Mental Health position per school, a minimum of three school counselors per middle school, 40 additional school psychologists, expanded mental health contracted services, and more
- Arts and music education initiatives are supported by $54 million from the tax increase. That includes fundings for more than 650 school fine arts, choice and career academy positions and added teachers on special assignment to support and expand fine arts curriculum
- About $110 million is used to improve teacher pay. All members of the “T” bargaining unit now receive supplements based on experience:
· One to four years of experience – $1,000 annual retention supplement· Five to nine years of experience – $5,000 annual retention supplement
· 10 years of experience or more – $10,000 annual retention supplement
These supplements are in place for four years (fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2023) and began Aug. 23, 2019.
The district says “a home assessed at $225,000 with a taxable value of $200,000 after the $25,000 school tax homestead exemption, will cost an additional $150 per year, which equates to $12.50 per month, or about $0.42 per day. A successful referendum will raise over $150 million for schools each year.”
Story updated to clarify the amount allocated to school safety