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Risks, Cautions, But Mostly Needs as Flagler School Board Readies for Tax Referendum

| March 12, 2013

Flagler County School Board member Andy Dance was front and center last summer in campaigning for the renewal of a half-penny sales tax to fund schools. This time, he's balking at the school board's proposal for a 50-cent levy on property.  Dance's stance could be the difference between the measure's success and failure. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County School Board member Andy Dance was front and center last summer in campaigning for the renewal of a half-penny sales tax to fund schools. This time, he’s balking at the school board’s proposal for a 50-cent levy on property. Dance’s stance could be the difference between the measure’s success and failure. (© FlaglerLive)

Late this afternoon, the Flagler County School Board approved going ahead with a referendum in June asking voters to raise their property tax by 50 cents for every $1,000 in taxable value—or the equivalent of $62.50 for a $150,000 house with a $50,000 homestead exemption (only the first $25,000 apply to school taxes).

The ballot will ask voters to approve a 50-cent tax. In reality, voters would be approving an extension of an existing 25-cent tax, and tacking on an additional 25 cents, for the next four years.

The vote was 4-1, with Andy Dance, the board chairman, dissenting, as he did last week when the board talked about the issue for the first time during a workshop. Superintendent Janet Valentine hasn’t changed her mind since, and was in fact more forceful when asked about it on Monday.

“I am going to bring that forward, we need to do this,” Valentine said, citing parents’ insistence on more security measures in schools—including sheriff’s deputies in every one of the county’s five traditional elementary schools—and restoring 45 minutes a day to the school schedule. That 45 minutes a day was cut two years ago, along with 40 teachers, to save money. “The only way we can do that is a point five mil, and I really believe the voters deserve an opportunity to make that decision.” (Property taxes are measured in “millage,” with each “mil” representing $1 for every $1,000 in taxable value. Read a fuller explanation here.)

The board is making a risky bet that voters will again approve an extra levy for schools, as they did as recently as August, as they also had in November 2010, both times with more than 60 percent of voters approving.

andy dance flagler county school board

Andy Dance (© FlaglerLive)

But Dance is worried that the board is going one levy too far, and trying voters’ patience. “I think as we talk, I think I would be open to extending the quarter mil, but am still not in favor of the half,” Dance said on Monday, repeating what he’d said last week, both at the board meeting and in an appearance on WNZF’s Free For All Friday with David Ayres. Dance specifies: “The ideas that are floating are good ideas. I just don’t think it’s the right time to go back to the voters for a tax increase.”

Dance looked around the state, where such new levies have had a 50-50 chance of success. He’s worried that if it fails this time in Flagler, then the school district will be out the equivalent of close to $4 million a year, a huge sum that will translate in severe cuts. He doesn’t want to take the risk.

Dance was an enthusiastic campaigner for the 10-year renewal of a half-penny sales tax that voters approved, with 63 percent in favor, in August. After some initial hesitation, he was also a supporter of the 2010 levy, which 61 percent of voters approved. But in both cases, Dance could make the argument that voters were not being asked to pay more taxes. They were being asked to continue to tax themselves at the same level as before. He’s right. Both initiatives did not add to taxpayers’ burden, but rather renewed existing levies.

The 50-cent levy would add half that amount to taxpayers’ rates. But to say that the 50-cent levy would add to taxpayers’ bills, as Dance claims, would also be wrong.

The reality is that school tax rates in Flagler County have gone down considerably in the last three years, as the state, which sets those rates, has cut them repeatedly, and most dramatically in the last two years. The state has done so even though property values have collapsed, producing a double saving for taxpayers. The state has essentially shifted the responsibility of merely maintaining adequate levels of funding onto local school boards, as the Flagler County School Board is now trying to do.

Take Dance’s own property tax bill.

In 2010, Dance’s house on Evansville Lane in Palm Coast was valued at $171,000. He was paying $1,154 in school property taxes. In 2012, his house was valued at $135,000. He paid just $877 in school property taxes, a tax cut of 24 percent. His overall tax bill went down, too, from $2,370 to $1,952 in the last two years—a $419 saving, or an 18 percent decline.

Most property owners are in Dance’s  shoes: not only are they not overtaxed, but their effective tax bills have declined. The Flagler County School Board has felt the effects, having to cut some $7 million from its operations, the equivalent of 8 percent of its general fund. It has done so even as it has also used up half its reserves in the last three years to balance its budget. Reserves that stood at $9 million two and a half years ago are now hovering around $4 million.

That’s why a majority of the school board is behind asking voters for the 50-cent levy. Still, voters don’t always react empirically to tax issues. They can react emotionally. They can go with assumptions riding waves of public sentiment, which, especially on tax matters, are usually at odds with reality: they assume that their taxes are high and have kept going up, even though taxes haven’t. They assume that every tax is a new tax, which, in the school district’s case, is not true. And they often fail to make the connection between what they demanded yesterday—more security in schools, a longer school day—and what it would cost to make that happen.

Colleen Conklin. (© FlaglerLive)

Colleen Conklin. (© FlaglerLive)

To board member Colleen Conklin, so far the most vocally enthusiastic supporter of the levy, going for the full 50-cent levy is in fact a 25-cent levy, which on a $175,000 home, she says, equates to a $2.60 bill per month. With that, she says, the district can put school resource deputies back in the schools, improve security infrastructure such as better school entrances, and restore the school day to its previous length.

“The bottom line is, we’re trying to address an issue that’s been raised due to this tragedy,” Conklin said of the demands for more security in light of the Connecticut school massacre last December. “We’re trying to address really the outcry and concern we’ve heard from across the district, not just from parents, but from grandparents, and it’s going to be up to the community to decide.”

It’s also going to take a great effort, on the school board’s part, to campaign effectively for the special levy, which would appear on a special election ballot in June, possibly at a cost of $80,000. If the board’s own chairman is not behind the levy, the board may have a much more difficult time convincing the public. Paradoxically, Dance’s stance could be the difference between the measure’s success and failure. Dance carries considerable weight—not only because he is the current board chairman, but because he commands respect on the board disproportionate to his single voice, he enjoys a broad constituency, he won re-election unopposed, and, as a member of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce, he tends to reflect local business interests.

Scott Sowers, the current chairman of the chamber, said the chamber briefly discussed the school levy during a business committee meeting recently, but doesn’t yet have enough information to know whether to take a stand—or whether the chamber will take a stand at all on the matter. But he expects the group to discuss the matter again soon.

More likely, it’s on development impact fees that the chamber may again engage the school board. Last year the school board rebuffed a chamber-backed attempt to impose a moratorium on development impact fees, which are one-time levies on builders that add several thousand dollars to the cost of a home. The fees are designed to defray the cost of development, and in the school board’s case, they ensure that the board has enough money to build new schools to meet demand. But for five years running, the district’s school population has stagnated, and in the last two years it has declined, even though the board continues to collect impact fees. “It may come back in the near future,” Sowers said, referring to the request for a moratorium.

Asked if the chamber might then ask for a moratorium in exchange for supporting the 50-cent levy, Sowers said: “That’s a possibility. It’s something we’re trying to explore.”

If the discussion goes in that direction, the school board will be in a tough position, because when it rebuffed the impact fee moratorium, it was largely supported by the general public, even as it was criticized by builders.

Conklin was struck by the connection. “I haven’t heard that at all, and one issue has nothing to do with the other, and I would be surprised if the chamber did that,” she said.

Meanwhile, the proposed referendum, even after it’s approved this evening, must go to the Flagler County Commission for its approval: state law requires the commission to be in charge of approving any referendum. Commissioners won’t object. But Barbara Revels, the commissioner who also chairs the county’s economic development council, said she’d like to see a full presentation by the school board on the proposed levy.

“I obviously like to support anything the school board does that will improve education, such as security and a longer school day,” Revels said. “I would worry just like School Board member Dance that they could be losing more than they could be gaining.” Revels added: “It would be wise for us to be another hearing body, let everybody come out and have another discussion on it. Maybe the citizens who pay taxes as well as the school parents would have something to say in a different venue than in front of the school board. I don’t know that. I’m just guessing. I’m not suggesting that the County Commission is now putting themselves in the position of a school board to know what’s right for schools and finances, I’m just saying if we’re going to vote on it, it becomes another opportunity for citizens to express themselves, and you never know, sometimes good things come out of that.”

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31 Responses for “Risks, Cautions, But Mostly Needs as Flagler School Board Readies for Tax Referendum”

  1. Complex says:

    Once again.. Palm Coast/Flagler wanting more money. Look we are ALL taking a HUGE tax hit this year..I won’t be voting YES to pay even more in taxes that’s for sure. Yes I see the need.. but we are just all in a bind right now.

    Also.. in regards to putting Deputies in EVERY school.. Conforming to a handful of happenings and expecting this to stop it from happening again.. not going to work. Many school shootings there was law enforcement presence. One person can only be in one place at any given time. Stepping up security measures.. locking doors.. add cameras.. etc… perhaps that will help add that sense of security that everyone is looking for. Not adding a deputy just because one person donated some money and put the bug in everyone’s ear.’s a citizen’s opinion on where to get some money and cut the budget.. LANDSCAPE! Sure.. it’s pretty. But Palm Coast spends A TON it. Between new plantings, irrigation (how about using native/drought plants that don’t require heavy irrigation).. and outsourced maintenance.. ton’s of money is being spent. Just another bug to put in your ear. :)

    • No more taxes says:

      Like board member Conklin said, you aren’t going to stop the crazy’s! So why pretend and spend tax dollars making it look like you can or will.

      It is funny how this school protection referendum has expanded since it was first discussed weeks ago to pull on the sympathies of the voters. The School Board all knew the .25 mil would be expiring in June so why didn’t they make plans to continue this with or without an I crease in November instead of wasting $100,000 dollars of our money? The joke is they then say they are transparent and spend our tax money wisely.

      They fired teachers and staff in recent years and then promoted more fat like an Assistant Superintendent. Again the transparency isn’t there. They need to add a second referendum to the ballot to allow us voters to elect our School Superintendent like we used to do. Enough of this scratch my back and I will scratch yours.

      The $100,000 being spent on a special election should and could be spent on educating our children. The reality is the School Board doesn’t value our tax dollars and believes the money tree will never die.

  2. Lin says:

    Maybe I’m oversimplifying this but for me — an increase is an increase is an increase. .50 is 2X .25 = more taxes to pay plus .5 mil in property taxes MORE. In Flagler and Palm Coast, hands are reaching deeper in my pockets. Everyone wants more. MY TAX BILL WAS HIGHER LAST YEAR than the year before. Income did NOT increase.

    Demanding a longer school day — of course, whose bright idea was shortening it in the place? What was done with the revenue the District supposedly saved.

    A note on the Chamber supporting or not supporting the tax increase and the threat of reviving the call for a moratorium on impact fees — this is politicing of the worst order. “Designed to defray the costs of development” is not exactly what they are. Impact fees are designed to prevent the impact of new construction on schools, roads, parks, etc. They are connected with the concept of concurrency which says that schools, roads, parks need to be in place b4 they are needed. To issue a moratorium would be to the builders benefit and to the detriment of anyone who paid them in the past. And what would happen if roads, schools etc. were needed? Who would pay for them? Concurrency came up in a school board candidate night and none of the candidates knew what it meant. A shame.

    Is raising taxes the only way to balance the School District budget? I would want to be assured of where exactly these extra $ are going. Come across with more information School District — why are we short, where exactly doeseach dollar you are getting go? The more information I get on my own, the more I see $s wasted, What would increasing security in the schools cost? I would be onboard for that. I’d cut something in my own budget.

    But the more information I research on my own about the school district the more aggravated I get at the waste, and I don’t know half of what is going on, I’m sure. The School Board hired a School Board Member’s affiliated firm to help teach the district how to communicate, I think it was $5000 — what, they don’t know how to communicate? And a School Board Member’s firm? I saw on an Agenda a bunch of employees sent away to get training in something or other. In my years of business one person was usually sent and they would come back to teach the rest. Or one teacher would come to us & teach everyone — saving $.

    Where does the bulk of what we pay now go? I basically know where it goes but before I vote yes or no, show me, School District. And I know numbers can lie and they can dance but I can see your feet move at least sometimes

  3. E. C. H. says:

    When hard working citizens are forced give more than 50% ever every dollar they earn to this and that tax, you get a country with a population of people who would rather rely on the government than work hard for what they earn. We are not getting there. We are already here. What we need are tax caps written into law for what each department of the government is allowed to spend so it is final. Enough already!

  4. kmedley says:

    Let me see if I have this correct. We, the taxpayers get to pay for a Special Election so that we may vote on known items that could have and should have been on the November ballot. Since incumbents were on the ballot, the School Board made a calculated decision to put just the half-cent sales tax issue before the voters. In so doing, neither incumbents or challengers had to address either the soon to sunset quarter sales tax or the additional quarter sales tax before the electorate. Now, a Special Election, estimated to cost $75,000 – $80,000 will be called so that a very informed few will travel to the polls to decide a tax increase for all.

    “The proverb tells us that the pitcher which goes oft to the well will be broken at last”. I am beginning to see cracks in the pitcher.

  5. Anon says:

    Flagler County has the highest rate of unemployment in Florida.
    Flagler County lead the state in foreclosures in 2012 and had one of the highest rates of foreclosure in the country.
    Wages in Palm Coast have declined over the past couple of years.

    Just how much more squeezing do these politicians want to do to the taxpayers?

    And please don’t tell me it’s Just a couple of more dollars per year.

  6. DLF says:

    So,if all of property values in Flagler drop we can still give Conklin a raise, protect the kids and get a tax reduction,what a deal for the run away school board. I guess we all knew that the security card was going to come up and be the main reason we need to increase our tax again. No one can argue against the need for increased security at the schools,but we can ask for details on where the balance of this money is going,increased school board salary,travel expenses or some other off the wall Conklin plan.
    I see we had an estimate on the school board member who is against the tax increase,but no estimate on Conklin or the other members,how selective.
    Maybe we should spend some of this money to see what are the true results we getting from the board and the teachers. Are the Flagler students getting the best education possible,passed results would say no !

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lets see if the BOE officers are willing to give up their salaries & use those funds for the students

  8. retired and tired says:


  9. It doesn't take a rocket scientist says:

    It will be interesting to see if the Board of County Commissioners support this special election knowing this should have been on the ballot in 2012 and that there is no excuse for a special election. This is not an emergency, and the CT school shooting was used as an excuse to call this election. We now learn how little revenue from this special election (if it passes) will actually go to providing security. This should not be approved by Commissioner Revels and the other Board members, as we have a scheduled election in August 2014 and it can go on the ballot then without additional costs to us. How are our kids being educated when the school board, superintendent and others involved in this have made such a hair brain move? Who involved in this is smarter than a 5th grader????

  10. Sweat says:

    We don’t need SRO’s in the elemnpentary schools. I have a free, simple safety measure. Lock the gates and doors to buildings.

  11. DRACOMACHINE says:

    Education funding is getting cut from all directions. We have to get money from somewhere to help the children. We are in a decreased funding, increased standards, increased accountability situation. Everyone wants to cut funding from education, no one wants to put forth any money to help improve it! Your future is at stake!

    In the words of Rocco Paffumi, “Thats right, keep cutting the education budget! When you are old and dependent on this generation you will reap what you sow!!!!!

    I can’t wait until your brain surgeon starts cutting into your foot to remove the tumor from your aorta!!!!!”

  12. Edman says:

    It is not the money that could kill this but the insistence that the hiring of security guards is what will make our kids safe. We need more money for our schools but it should be used to improve instruction not to try and appease fears of safety by a feel good measure. If parents want to fear something let it be their students graduating unprepared to compete in a world where other students have had a superior education.

  13. Nancy N. says:

    I agree with Edman. I’m happy to give the district the money they so desperately need but I DO NOT want any of it spent on security because one parent panicked over a freak event and decided to force the school district’s hand politically to get what they wanted. That money needs to be in the classroom, educating kids and providing needed support services – like the special needs services that are being cut right and left. Virtually all of my daughter’s services were withdrawn at her last IEP meeting for barely disguised budget reasons.

  14. RC says:

    They shouldn’t use the “we need more SRD” as the reason for this measure, that is just a very small fraction of what the money will really be needed for. As many of you have noticed, the education budget has been cut year after year since 2009, eventually something must be done to make up for these cuts.

    If I asked you, what is the most important thing in your life? If you have children, you would say your kids. On average, we are talking about an increase of $5.21 a month in property taxes ($62.50/12). Now are things so bad financially in your life that you can not afford this increase, which will go directly to educating your children?

    • NO WAY says:

      I gave RC a like by mistake…..the problem is the money the school board gets does not go towards educating our children. The current SRO’s in the schools don’t prevent unaccepable activities. Look at the student in Matanzas that was sexually assulted. Where was the SRO? How many kids are suspended, and for what? How many kids have been expelled? There are still gangs, and drugs with law enforcment in the schools and in the public. We are being tricked with this special election. The mental health part of it needs to start with the administration for asking for a special election when this could have been on the ballot a few months ago for FREE!

      • RC says:

        I agree it should have been on the ballot last Fall, I’m not sure why it wasn’t. It’s impossible for a SRD to be at all places at once, but my point is that the education budget has been cut a ridiculous amount over the past several years and this tax would be an attempt to make up some of that loss. I’m not sure how anyone is being ‘tricked’, especially after reading this article and having the right to vote on it.

  15. Grford says:

    Flagler schools have been awarded over 853,000 this year based on our schools performance.
    The .25 cent tax that has been in place should have been considered In Nov rather than spending now.
    I feel the school board just like our moms and dads and kids and grand parents need to stand in the street and shake a bucket for expenses they overlooked planning for. This 75000 to 80000 needs to be paid for by the board not our taxes or our schools. We all have to budget to get through hard times this is waistful
    Spending. Security at the schools needs to be in place but should have been considered when building and remoldeling schools. Security issues have been going on for years we are a young city this again should have been on the table from the beginning. Many schools handle this with gates and limited access and volunteers. This maybe a option that we could consider.
    But asking for a .50 increase now is certain to be turned down, easy does it is the moto when it comes to tax increases.

  16. PC Mom says:

    Let’s cut some of these 6 figure salaries for these people that aren’t even in the classroom…. We as a county are broke…..some if us not even making 5 figures….
    Instead of us getting taxed….let’s pull down some of these salaries….

  17. Complex says:

    Taking more money for taxes does not fix the problem.. The whole system of money dispersal needs to be re-looked at. There is so much money being wasted on non essential things.

    We all have the same feeling when it comes to this next statement.. The politicians and top figureheads have no problem cutting everyone else.. but cut into their own pockets and they just won’t allow it. That has to stop.

  18. Jill says:

    The old saying: “You can fool some people some times but you cant fool all the people all the time.”

    -We certainly don’t need to spend nearly 1/2 million on a new technology tract when we already have a very excellent one in the ATC.
    -We don’t need arming our schools to the teeth with hysteria which actually affects children subconsciously.
    -Adding more teachers is not going to produce better F-Cat results. What will is cutting teacher work days and all that other crap you waste.
    -Get ready for 16% increases from FPL soon
    -Get ready for higher water bills soon.
    -Get ready for additional school taxes.
    -Get ready for more taxes to bail out Plantation Bay water System.
    -Get ready to stop at every traffic light in Palm Coast with cameras.
    -Get ready to pay more to our City Manager who makes more than a U.S. Senator.
    Did I miss anything folks?
    The Flagler County residents on fixed income are already in debt when ever they get there next Social Security raise.
    No, no, no to more taxes! And, if the State is cutting funding to Counties make do with what you have by cutting the fat and raises to these people we elect. You ever ask residents that work in this city when is the last time they got a raise?

  19. Outsider says:

    I have one child in FPCHS and one in Imagine. I have no problem coughing up an extra sixty bucks a year; I spent that on lunch for my family and daughter’s friends this weekend. I would much rather see the money spent on restoring the 45 minutes of classroom time lost two years ago. My daughter had to complete an honors geometry class that normally takes a year in half a year. Putting a security officer in every school is like the federal government’s over reaction to 9/11 by creating a massive federal bureaucracy when targeted surveillance would have made more sense. While I am no fan of wasteful spending by the government, the schools have already taken big hits and have pared down to the bone.

  20. confidential says:

    In Flagler and Volusia students enrollment is down and the School Board wants additional taxes?
    Even if the School Board just approved to go to referendum, needs the Board of County Commission approval to materialize it and I hope our commissioners take in consideration the diminished student enrollment and the overburden that they will impose in the unemployed and elderly tax contributors of Flagler County. So please vote NO to this referendum. School Board and Administrators need to do a better job at budgeting, just cut the fat. What a costly $80,000 plus travesty to hold an special election
    in this pathetic economy! Why they didn’t put it in the ballot in 2012?

  21. Sweat says:

    There is money. People need to understand how the money is appropriated. Look at how much money was spent on elementary schools in which many rooms don’t get built. Remember how Matanzas and Rymfire were built for a different use than what they currently are. Nobody wants to address that. Remember the food services grant about five years ago? It was $30,000 for a mural. It couldn’t be spent in a way in which people want.. How about the marquees in front of the schools? Money can’t be shifted around.

  22. Ido says:

    Dear school board members. I will never…ever…vote in favor of this additional tax and how dare you spend 100k of our money when there was an election 4 months ago. I will vote in favor of a repeal of the tax that I voted to extend in November. I have talked to all my neighbors and they feel the same. This is a waste of money!!!! Omg!

  23. Nancy N. says:

    What everyone is failing to understand is that the district is not asking for a gift of new money here to pad their budget. They are asking for a millage that will help restore funds to their budget that have been lost because of massive decreases in local property values and massive cuts in state education funding. When property values fall, to receive the same amount of money from that property base, you have to raise millage on it. When the state discontinues virtually all education funding to local districts, something has to give.

    The district’s been losing funding right and left for the past few years. We are way past the point of “cutting the fat”, people. They’ve done that, long ago. We’re now into slashing vital programs. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE. Property tax bills have been going down locally, as shown in the example of Andy Dance’s home in the article. It’s time to give some of that back for the good of the kids and by extension the good of the community in the short and long term. Even if you don’t have kids in school, an investment in the quality of the school district is an investment in your property value in the future. The district cannot continue its current quality on its current meagre budget. Performance is suffering and it will only get worse if we don’t give them the tools they need to do their work.

    • RC says:

      Nancy N. gets it.

    • Brad W says:


      You do not “get it” at all. First of all, look at you tax bill AND read this article. This referendum IS NOT about education. To quote Colleen Conkilin:

      “The bottom line is, we’re trying to address an issue that’s been raised due to this tragedy,” Conklin said of the demands for more security in light of the Connecticut school massacre last December. “We’re trying to address really the outcry and concern we’ve heard from across the district, not just from parents, but from grandparents, and it’s going to be up to the community to decide.”

      THE BOTTOM LINE is wanting tax dollars for armed guards and shamefully and disrespcetfully trying to use the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook to sell that to you. residents here already pay about 50% of their property taxes to the schools. IF this were for education . . . I’m for it, but it’s not. My daughter went through the schools and graduated just a few short years ago. Our schools weren’t safe then? Hey, a suicide bomb went off in Afghanistan, should we raise our taxes to bomb proof our schools too!

      Second, let’s talk about tax revenue. You do realize that real estate locally has been recovering? The number of home sales from the start of this year to mid April is up about 55% compared to the same period in 2011 and down 2% compared to the same period in 2012. But it’s a fragile recovery. Homes selling and residents moving in solves the problem of school revenue. Do you know what one of the top questions buyers ask when buying here? I do . . . what’s the taxes? If we open the door to our schools sneaking this kind of increase in, you will see the other government departments doing the same (i.e. the Library, etc.). Higher taxes will negatively impact the local real estate recovery and negatively impact the school budget in the long run. Schools do not drive real estate. Real estate drive the schools.

      Third, how dare our School Board try to bully residents through fear of the calamities that face our schools and community if this referendum doesn’t pass. We are not the ones choosing to double down a bet on a vote. The .25 mil continuing would probably go through with no questions asked, but to turn around and ask for an additional $1.6+ million dollars to put guns on schools grounds (which will NOT increase safety because no single armed guard would have stopped the Sandy Hook tragedy) and MAYBE put 45 minutes back in the school day. This IS NOT about education or improving education locally.

      Here’s an explanation from Colleen Conklin with her “rant” posted on her public School Board Member Facebook Page (Flagler County School Board Member News – Colleen Conklin District. 2) as a comment on her post on March 14th:

      I wanted to share something with you that I posted on my personal page back in March about some of the issues I’ve heard mentioned on the on-line forums and some you’ve brought up. My desire is to be anything but “shady”. I’d really like to get to ALL your concerns and questions. We may not agree on everything but I want to make sure you have the facts. The only thing I would ask in the process is for you to consider them with an open heart and mind. If the following doesn’t answer your questions, let’s keep the dialogue going until I’ve given you the information you want to know. Again, the following was posted on my personal page at a moment of frustration but I think it hits on some shared concerns. It is also followed by a presentation on restoring the .5mil. “Please forgive me but I’m going to go on a little rant right now.

      I am so sick and tired of people who “friend” me and then go on forums on-line and trash talk about the up coming referendum for our schools. All of which is done without even asking ME one single question.

      So check it out – you can think this was a manufactured “ask” and that we had every intention to ask the public for the additional .25 mil. The TRUTH is we would NEVER be having this discussion or put it in front of the voters to decide if it wasn’t for Sandy Hook. Period – end of story! No magical political playbook and to even suggest that is disgusting and completely ticks me off. We heard an outcry from this community about additional layers of security for our schools and children. We heard an outcry from our parents and teachers about the loss of the 45 minutes in the school day for middle and high school students. We knew the .25 mill (1.6 million) was sunsetting this year. Staff has a list of recommend cuts to make up the shortfall. It’s not pretty but we PLANNED for it. Would those cuts have impacted programming? Yes, but we had a plan in place. Additional security options in personnel and construction – was not part of the plan. Replacing the 45 minutes in the day – was not part of the plan. Improving our mental health programs – was not party of the plan. We were planning on cutting $1.6 million from the budget NOT adding to it. If you had gone to any of the meetings or participated in the process you would know much of this information.

      It is incredible to me how much misinformation is floating around and how people are quick to judge. And it really burns me that some of these same people are on my friend list. If you want school news – like my School Board page and de-friend me! If you don’t know my intention for this referendum is pure and about what is best for our schools than you don’t know me at all.

      This is about our schools. We have CUT $82,535,446 or 36% of our entire budget over the last 5 years. For God’s Sake what don’t you get about that! I suppose we can just continue to cut, cut, cut or we can try to do something about. At a minimum we have a responsibility to share the facts with the community and allow them to decide. The cost on an average home ($120,000) in Palm Coast according to the Property Appraiser – after homestead will be $23.99 a year or $1.99 a month. People have forgotten that the whole 2 mill was part of your tax bill up until 2009 when it was backed out by the legislature. A school board could approve it the first year by super majority vote but after that a board would have to take it to the voters. The ballot measure on June 7th makes the 2 mill whole again.

      We have a responsibility to lay out the facts to the public to let them know what that $1.99 a month may provide to our schools. I was elected to be a good steward to the tax payers dollars. We’ve done that for the last 5 – 6 years as we balanced these cuts with providing students with quality programming and building our fund balance. Please, if you don’t know about the referendum or you have questions about it or anything regarding the process – have the decency to ASK me (especially if you are on my friend list). I’m a big girl. I will do my best to answer your questions – Watch the presentation link.

      And yes, I know you will be the same people who will paste and copy this into those on-line forums to continue to bash me. smh
      Sorry – rant is over!

  24. snapperhead says:

    I’m willing to pay a bit more for what is necessary. Schools don’t need sheriffs deputies making time and a half to provide security. Private security firms could do the job for half the cost and provide more jobs as a bonus. Not that it would even stop a psycho hell bent on killing school children…..what’s next armed escorts to and from home to their bus stops, after school activities etc? If i’m not mistaken they recently purchased Ipads for $250,000. I can’t afford an Ipad but i’m supposed to pay more in taxes so the delinquents who litter my yard almost daily on the way to their bus stop can have them? My incomes gone down almost 30% the last 5 years and i’m supposed to feel bad for a gym teacher or someone teaching finger painting making 60 grand.

    • Nancy N. says:

      “Go flip yourselves?” It’s pretty hard to take your argument seriously when you act so disrespectful to others.

      As a parent, no freaking way do I want rent-a-cops running around my child’s school providing “security”. I don’t even want a fully qualified and equipped off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy there.

      Those iPads aren’t toys. They didn’t buy them so the kids could play Angry Birds between classes! They bought them because they can use them to replace the text books that the kids use. Electronic text books are much cheaper and can be updated more frequently than paper books. They also give the kids the ability to do things like fill in worksheets, or highlight and annotate as they read, without destroying the book for the next user. They also don’t have to have huge amounts of space to be stored. Ebooks can also contain interactive content like videos – instead of just reading about a science experiment or historical event, you can see video of it. Huge photo galleries of, say, art can be inserted that would not be possible in print due to expense and space limitations.

      Ebooks are the future of education. The district is trying to keep our kids on the cutting edge. As a parent, I applaud that they are doing what is necessary. As a taxpayer, you should applaud that they are doing something that will cut the expense of text books for the district.

      Who’s making 60k? Have you seen the pay scale for teachers? They start in the 30’s! And as for your bitching about the finger painting – the young kids have to learn somehow. That is part of the process. What do you think the 3-5 year olds should be doing instead? Algebra? It’s all building blocks.

      [Nancy, thanks for pointing out the offending line, which should not have gotten through, and has been deleted.–FL]

      • snapperhead says:

        I could care less what they start at. More concerned with what i’m paying now….here’s just a few examples from the public database from 2010.

        Maute, Suzanne M FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Belle Terre Elementary Teacher Kg $70,677.00

        Mccoppin, Nancy M FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Belle Terre Elementary Teacher Pe $55,275.00

        Belletto Jr., Alphonse J FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Belle Terre Elementary Counselor $74,308.00

        Coleman, Katrina L FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Belle Terre Elementary Counselor $51,024.00

        Two counselors really necessary? and Bunnell Elementary has 3 all making 70k minimum?

        Bickings, Susan C FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Bunnell Elementary Counselor $78,613.00
        Donchez, Sherri P FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Bunnell Elementary Counselor $77,613.00
        Haskins, Carmen A FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOLS: Bunnell Elementary Counselor $68,798.00

        Elementary phys ed, kindergarden and counselors making that kind of money and i’m supposed to feel bad and pay more to pay these exhorbitant salaries, not even too mention the benefits they all receive that adds approximately 1/3 in salary costs to taxpayers. 3 counselors in one school making over 200k combined?????? Have YOU ever looked and see the salaries we’re paying NOW…not what they started at. If YOU feel like paying more for those “building blocks” by all means cut the school board a check….more power to you but don’t expect me to.

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