Seminole Co. Schools release list of needs for proposed tax hike - FOX 35 News Orlando

Seminole Co. Schools release list of needs for proposed tax increase

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Seminole County Schools has released its preliminary list of needs for the proposed penny sales tax in Seminole County.

Voters go to the polls May 20 to decide whether to increase the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent for 10 years.

It would raise $630 million, with $150 million of that going to the schools. The rest would go to cities and the County for road and stormwater projects.

See the list here.

Seminole Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin told Fox 35 they had to pare a large list down to fit the $15 million per year the District would receive from the tax.

"Everything on that list is an absolute need," he said. "If you, um, the cafeteria at South Seminole probably only houses about 2/3 of the students at a time, and the rest of the students have to eat outside."

Cafeterias, new administration buildings and media centers peppered that proposed list, but School Board Chair Karen Almond is assuring the public that they are building the essentials first.

"An administration building is a place where the parents come in," she said. "It's your public customer service area."

The biggest benefactor would be Seminole High School. They would be slated to receive $26 million to get rid of 20 portable classrooms in exchange for a permanent structure that could house more than 800 students.

Griffin says much of the remodeling and revamping of schools would be in structures that were built in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

"We have some very old structures," Griffin said. "We have some water intrusion, and it's time to repair those."

The full list of needed Seminole County School District improvements comes in at about $400 million. Almond cautions voters that passing this tax will not make every need they have go away.

"A quarter of a penny will not cover all of our needs, absolutely not," she said. "I think there will always be needs. We're a large district. We're grateful if we get it, and we'll have to tighten our belts if we don't."

The Superintendent will recommend to the Board they reduce property taxes by $15 million a year if the sales tax passes on May 20, but Almond has said multiple times that she may not be comfortable doing that with such a large dollar amount of capital needs still on the District's list.

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