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Flagler’s School Tax Referendum: An Opposing View

| May 15, 2013

'We already provide enough and we should not be mislead by our School Board every year about how much more money they need,' Brad West argues. (© FlaglerLive)

‘We already provide enough and we should not be mislead by our School Board every year about how much more money they need,’ Brad West argues. Above, the Flagler County School Board during a budget workshop in late April. (© FlaglerLive)

By Brad West

This referendum proposal bothers me quite a bit.  Not just because it’s a tax increase, and not because I have anything against our schools.  It’s because of the misleading information our School Board and the PAC (yes, there is a PAC for this tax increase) is actively providing, the way in which it’s being handled by our School Board (a vote in June and on a Friday costing our County at least $80,000 for the election),  and that it does not provide any solution to improving our schools.

Brad West. (© FlaglerLive)

Brad West. (© FlaglerLive)

Here’s the misleading information the School Board is pushing out and what the reality is with each:

1.       The “cup of coffee per month” – This is meant to equate into the smallest possible amount how much is being added to your taxes if the levy is approved.   What is not being talked about here is what you are already paying and what the total school budget is.

Reality  – the “cup of coffee” equivalent is based upon a home with taxable value of about $120,000 and is only accounting for .25 mil (the increase; for an explanation of mills and millage, go here).  That homesteaded home already pays about $750 a year just to the schools ($7.943 mil, that is, $7.943 per $1,000 in taxable value, and with only $25,000 exemption, not the $50,000 exemption, which applies only to non-school property taxes).  Most pay over $1,000 a year in school taxes.  (See the Flagler County Property Appraiser website for more property tax information.)

Click On:

Reality – The School millage rate in Flagler County is the highest of all property tax lines on your bill.  Yes, even higher than the county’s, which is $7.66 per $1,000, and the county’s tax line benefits from the $50,000 homestead exemption (at least for homesteaded properties).

Reality – The 2012 -2013 School budget is $147,995,484 according to a School Board Member’s online  presentation.  This is not enough?  What is enough?  Let’s break that amount down, which is $567,032 per day (taking out weekends and for 12 months but our schools really only run about nine months).  Do you think $567,032 a day is not enough?  What is enough?

Would you simply hand over another $25 or $50 of an $800 to $1,000 bill of premium products or services just because, and not question it?

2.       This tax is about improving safety  because of Sandy Hook and the “public outcry” –  First, I find anyone using the horrific tragedy of Sandy Hook as a marketing angle to try and instill fear and pitch increasing taxes extremely disrespectful to those victims and their families.  Just shameful, to say the least.

Reality – Placing an armed guard on campus does not increase safety.  Expert opinions often state that an armed guard probably would not have stopped that shooter in Connecticut.  There were armed guards present at Columbine High School in 1999.  If we are going to increase taxes for our schools, then put the money into actual education improvements. Don’t  waste it on a gun on a guard standing around doing nothing.

Reality – The NRA originally proposed the idea of training and placing armed guards in schools in December. The public reaction was less than welcoming to the idea.  The reality is that the “public outcry” has gone both ways, without a majority one way or the other.  There has been a “public outcry” mostly over better gun controls.

3.       This tax increase will protect our future – In 2010 our School Board asked residents to continue the .25 mil and emphasized how it was not adding to, but simply continuing, an existing tax.  Two years later they are asking to double the amount to .50 mil, with declining enrollment and an improving economy and local real estate market.  We are not protecting a future if we are not managing the finances of the schools responsibly.  That part isn’t changing and the board is all over the place in regards to communicating figures and information.

Reality – The School Board could truly protect the future of our schools by not raising taxes on home owners.  The majority of home-owners are probably in favor of continuing the .25 mil, which is $1.6 million, according to the School Board.  The School Board is gambling that money for our Schools by “doubling down” and pushing voters “backs to the wall.”  The only way to move away from those “walls” is to stand up and walk past the obstacle with courage.

Reality – Our local real estate market is improving.  Home sales are up, inventory is down, and sales prices are starting an upward trend.  But it’s a fragile recovery. To jeopardize it by finding multiple ways to increase taxes “just a bit more” is a sure-fire way of negatively impacting that recovery.  It’s a lot more than just the schools losing out if the real estate market stalls again locally.

Reality – Any good business owner knows that simply throwing more money at any issue is not a solution to anything if you never address the real problem.  Yet our schools keep asking us to do this . . . just throw in more money.  When you ask why,  prepare for conflicting and ever-changing answers even from the same person on our School Board.

Reality – If residents really want to kick in an extra $3.2 million towards a real investment in our schools,  do it for economic development.  Why?  More business means more jobs, which means more local consumer spending, which  means more homeowners, more tax revenue and more of that revenue going to the schools. In fact, $3.2 million invested in real economic development would yield far more than $3.2 million increase to the schools each year and be a real protection for the future.

The bottom line for me is that enough is enough.  We already provide enough and we should not be mislead by our School Board every year about how much more money they need.  Enough with how much our schools aren’t getting and let’s talk about how much they are getting and how best to use it.  If the existing board members are not truly up to finding real ways to live within the ample means we are providing them, they need to do the responsible thing and step aside and let others step in who can.

Here’s one way to sum up the situation. You go to the home improvement store and get advice to buy $800-worth of products that will improve and typically add to the value of your home. You’re investing that $800 in your home.  You get to the cashier knowing the total will be $800, plus 7 percent sales tax. Total: $856. But the cashier smiles at you and says, “That’ll be $881.” The sensible person questions the extra $25.  And when the response is, “Well, that $25 is our cart and shelf fee.  It’s only about a cup of coffee per month and just think of the investment you are making in us to continue to be here for you,” the sensible person shouldn’t be “sold” on that line of junk.  All the while you should be thinking about what the $800 you are already giving them is for.

The question here is what do you do next?  Do you just simply hand over that additional $25 just because and walk away?

Is this an issue worth questioning and demanding real answers about?  Should the money you work hard for and the share you already contribute to your community schools be declared “not enough”?  Is it worth showing your children or grandchildren when it’s right to stand up and speak out when something  is wrong?

You decide.

Brad West is a Palm Coast resident. Reach him by email here.

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39 Responses for “Flagler’s School Tax Referendum: An Opposing View”

  1. TyCobbHimself says:

    Amen Brother

    • Valleyloo says:

      Since enrollment is down, I would like to take a look at the budget from the same year with the same enrollment numbers and see how the money was used then! I’m sure you will see that Flagler County Schools have gotten VERY top heavy in the last few years. Let’s clear out the Government Services Building and store things in there to free up space for the students to move into Indian Trails K-8 (which is half empty and used as a closet) as well as the entire empty section in Wadsworth Elementary.
      Let’s cut from the top instead of threatening the lowest paid/most taken advantage of and spread thin, employees, the Para-Professionals and Custodians.


      Well said !!

  2. Joe B says:

    I wish Brad West would consider running against Colleen Conklin on the School Board. Conklin is nothing but a rubber stamp for Supt. Valentine. We need someone like Brad West who has the taxpayers interest and not the other way around. The whole School Board should be voted out and Supt Valentine should retire this year rather than next for incompetence. I never saw such hutzpah with this group of people who will tax us at the drop of a hat. Time for all of them to hit the road!

  3. confidential says:

    Very clearly stated Brad…if they have a budget problem is due to overspending, so they need to tighten their belt like we all do since 2008. And should be the administrators belts not the student’s or their transportation or their teachers or para-pro (teachers assistants).

  4. PC Citizen says:

    The waste I have seen in the Flagler County School system is DESPICABLE ! These people have been living HIGH on the HOG for sometime now…..Only a cup of coffee !!! I don’t drink coffee so you get NO more money from me. I’ve had enough of this city and all its entities SOAKING the citizens for more TAXES. NO MORE !!!

  5. Nancy N. says:

    Brad you are all over town screaming about the school board being “misleading” and yet you are being misleading yourself.

    You conveniently fail to mention in all of your faux calculations the massive decrease in state and federal funding the district has received in the past few years. You conveniently leave out all of the new mandates, like decreased class sizes, that have been handed to the district by the state and federal government – along with the price tag for them, while those entities were decreasing their funding to the district.

    You throw around a lot of big numbers but are you an expert on school district budgeting? Yes, $147 million sounds like a lot of money. But is it really out of line with what is needed to run a district of this size? To know that, you need to compare to what other districts of similar size and with similiar needs are spending to get A district schools. Just throwing around numbers and saying they are “a lot” means nothing.

    You also conveniently ignore that inflation has meant that the cost of goods and services the district uses has been going up from inflation while the district’s funding has been dropping. The increase being asked for, by your own calculation, is only about 3% of taxpayers’ bills, which is about a single year of that price inflation in recent years. When you look at it that way, the district is simply asking for the same inflation increase in it’s price that every single other product and service you pay for gets. They are, essentially, asking for a cost of living adjustment. Nobody tells the senior citizens to just suck it up and “cut the fat” when social security doesn’t come through with a COLA for them…but we want to deny the same for our kids’ educations?

    Home buyers aren’t going to notice a 3% difference in school property taxes – especially out of state buyers, when our property taxes are about half what they are in other states. What they WILL notice is the quality of our schools going down if we don’t give them the money they need to educate their students. Nobody wants to buy a home in a lousy school district. It’s an investment in all of our property values to invest in quality schools.

    And yet more misinformation…this tax is NOT about paying for security. A small fraction of the money is slated for security improvements and the timing of the referendum was driven by parents demanding those improvements when there was no money for them. But the vast majority of the money is slated for educational improvements such as the 45 minutes that were removed being added back to the school day. I oppose adding SRO’s to the elementary schools but I am still voting for this millage because that is only a small fraction of the money.

    If the money’s not enough, it’s not enough. I’m showing my child where my priorities are by voting “yes” to fund her education.

    • Johnny Taxpayer says:

      I’m curious, out side of health insurance, what specific goods and services that the SB purchases have increased in cost in the past 3 years?

      The standard line of “vote for more taxes or you hate kids” just doesn’t work any more. Most everybody I know would be happy to pay a few extra dollars in tax for anything, especially schools if they felt a) the taxes we’re already paying are being used efficiently and effectively to begin with and b) the additional money would be handled in the same manner. Let’s not forget it’s the school board (and apparently you) that want to raise our taxes, the burden is on them to prove both A&B, thus far they haven’t met that burden. Using fear tactics and name calling doesn’t meet that burden.

      • Nancy N. says:

        How about…everything? Just like it has for you and me at the office supply store, the grocery store, the hardware store…school districts aren’t immune from the price increases that are affecting consumers.

  6. DRuta says:

    Exactly about time this was said you should let the Observer publish something like this. Enough is enough. Like most I’ve moved here to make my dollar go father, and enjoy semi retirement. Three things that I have read about since arriving . More diversification in the schools., Low incoming housing being proposed for PC. and now tax increases for the schools. All three are the reasons people flee the City or Town they live in., The first one does nothing but placate the few while hampering the quality of education, You want increased test scores put the burden on the individual and his parents to spend more time studying not hanging out or being a Vididiot. Please show me where low income housing has benefited a productive community? All it does is foster more Government dependance, welfare & crime at the Taxpayers expense while increasing the socially dependent voting numbers. Tax raises? Before any raises are proposed those asking need to drastically cut to the bare bones any & everything then asses the programs before asking for a raise. The school board has a number of items up for consideration…. Good Implement them all, then next year give us a report and we’ll see what can be done.

    • Will says:

      DRuta – you listed: “More diversification in the schools” as a problem. What do you mean? Student mix? Curriculum choice? Choice of schools?

  7. Jordyn says:

    I don’t think the state’s role in the budget process is fully appreciated. The state will provide X dollars, but there are requirements for every line item – they don’t just hand over the full amount and allow the district to decide how to spend. The district is required to spend certain categories of the funding toward transportation, salaries, technology, etc, by law – they cannot always mix and match funds across categories. It is easy to complain that you have seen the district “waste” money; I have seen many complaints about technology costs. But as it happens, that category of funds has rules that keep it from being spent on other needs.

    Imagine bringing home your weekly paycheck and wanting to spend the full amount on needed groceries, but being required to spend 50% of it on a cleaning service. You probably feel you could clean your house yourself and spend the full amount on the groceries, but the state says no, find another way to address your grocery needs.

    Now I do not agree with how this was handled – I do not think there should have been a separate referendum; the school board should have handled this in the last general election. But that is a separate issue from the need for the funds. I am also tired of the argument that “our parents and grandparents did more with less.” That’s simply not true. They did as much as they could with what they had, and that is exactly what everyone is still trying to do. There are many, many more state requirements to meet than there ever were, there are technology advancements that if not kept up with, will leave our students behind in the dust. The number of specialized classes that need to be provided is much higher than before, and the requirements for college and scholarships are incredibly more difficult.

    I want my taxes to stay low. I also want my taxes to go to only the most important and essential services. Education is one of those services that I accept the need to pay taxes for. (For the record, tennis courts are not.) I want those 45 minutes back, I want the band to have their badly needed uniforms, and I want school resource officers, so I will be voting Yes.

    • Brad W says:


      Great points and perspective. Here’s the thing with the 45 minutes in my opinion . . . it should have never went away in the first place. It’s a scheduling issue and adults not being able to come to agreements. So to bring it back, about 40 teachers need to be hired. Now even getting that information from School Board Members when asking why 45 minutes costs $2+ million took weeks. Andy Dance posted a graphic that shows the reasoning having to do with “student contact time” restrictions.

      This is where parents, such as yourself, should be outraged. The schools can have the 45 minutes for the students AND it does not have to cost $2+ million.

      • Jordyn says:

        I simply do not understand your problem with why the 45 minutes would cost 2 million. It was reported at the time of the cuts that it was saving 2.1 million, so it stands to reason that adding it back would cost the same. Why would I be outraged now over something that was known 2 years ago? And how do you propose we hire back the 40 teachers without it costing the 2 million?

  8. Are you serious says:

    Super…excellent…and well written article….a great read for all taxpayers to be informed…..

    Thank you !

  9. mellie says:

    Nancy, I have one question and only one question for you: why are administrators off limits when it comes to these cuts?

    WHY, when cuts need to be made, those people making obscene, six-figure incomes never seem to pony up any of THEIR money, and it comes off the backs of people making a crummy 18 grand a year to do a real, honest-to-goodness job?

    I’ve asked Flagler Live and I’ve asked other commenters. And now I am asking you. It would be helpful if you really did speak for the board. I’d like a first-hand answer to the specific question, please.

    • Nancy N. says:

      I don’t speak for the board, I’m just a private citizen who has an investment in the schools because I have a 10 year old daughter and I care about this community. I’ve taken the time and effort to educate myself about the school district and the issues facing it.

      I’ll admit to being on the fence about making cuts to the administration and school board salaries. I come from up north where school boards are not compensated – but it is the norm in Florida, and I have seen that the result of that is that it seems that we have more highly engaged board members because they can afford to spend more of their time and effort on the job. Are the administrators overpaid? Do we have a few too many? Possibly. Probably. I’d like to see that looked at. But bottom line…even if the school board and ALL the top administrators started taking paychecks of $0, the district’s budget would still be way out of whack. Even that wouldn’t fill the hole.

      One thing to remember, btw, is that you get what you pay for…if you want good leadership, you have to pay for it. You pay rock bottom dollar, you get the bottom of the barrel people who can’t get a better job. It’s all well and good to talk about stopping paying the school board, but I guarantee you that the quality of the candidates will go down because high quality workers have more productive things to do with their time than work for free. Sure, you’ll get a few doing it out of altruism, but the pool will be much more limited.

  10. Gia says:

    These yoyo’s school board are just trying to wash your brain with nonsense. BRAVO BRAD, THAT MAKE SENS & REALITY…AMEN…..NO MORE SCHOOL TAXES.

  11. Brad W says:

    Thank you everyone for the kind words. Thank you to Pierre and the FlaglerLive team for providing a news outlet and a means for an average citizen to express their opinion too. We are very fortunate as a community to have you.

    I was very hesitant to put this out there and speak out as much as I have, but this is something that has been very frustrating. And see the waste that is surfacing even since I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. The schools could have easily brought this issue up in November for no cost. That photo was me out helping on a local campaign. I was at all those forums and the referendum was never brought up. Now the schools are paying for this election. That’s a lot of money taken away from education.

    Nancy makes a great point about costs of programs and legislation mandates that are unfunded. IF this were such an issue why would our school board not have planned to ask for an extension of the referendum in November? It wasn’t like the 45 minutes was a non-existent issue. I’m sorry if you don’t consider spending about $80,000+ on a vote unnecessarily wasteful. I do. I also find it wasteful to spend $10,000 an a teacher award, and tens of thousands of dollars on graduations out of county. You should be outraged because that is all money that should be going towards education.

    I’m glad people are getting active about this issue. And I hope we see A LOT of votes. Afterwards, I hope the momentum doesn’t stop in demanding our Board be far more responsible. It’s not an amount of money problem to me. It’s a people and accountability problem. You don’t fix the latter by throwing more money at the problem.

  12. Joe B says:

    I agree Brad. I have been living in Flagler County for 20 years and have never seen such incompetence the likes of this School Board and administration. They have awakened many of us to the dumb down style bullying and personal attacks to force this tax on residents of Flagler County.

    I can only hope that Flagler County voters send a resounding NO to this School Board who are still squandering tax payers money with their continued advertising and wasteful spending to bully a vote.

  13. Love it says:

    I’d pay $80,000 to vote Brad in charge! Thank you for calling for the truth!

  14. Stevie says:

    “Don’t waste it [money] on a gun on a guard standing around doing nothing.”

    Why does the President of the United States have armed guards protecting his children? Are you a security expert?

    Why would I trust a forced school system to educate my children if they can’t protect them? or won’t protect them.

    Forced public schooling doesn’t teach. The whole system is counter productive according to public school Teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto.

    “Here is a demonstration that the harm school inflicts is quite rational and deliberate. The real function of pedagogy is to render the common population manageable, remove the obligation of child care from adult workers so they are free to fuel the industrial economy and to train the next generation into subservient obedience to the state.”

    Weapons of Mass instruction.

    We don’t have an industrial economy any more. They all left for China, India and parts unknown.

  15. confidential says:

    Same request as Mellie..why administrators are left off the (cut) hook? As a taxpayer I want an answer! Why I am forced to pay luscious luxury living of six figure plus to administrators while we have about 280 less kids in our rolls. The excuse of high quality professionals do not stick to six figure salaries, simply because we have multitude of students falling off their grades and or good behavioral patterns.
    Six figure plus pay, when the highest percentage of our students are eligible for reduced cost lunches? Does it tell you guys that the families paying the school taxes are in financial strain? Why isn’t the Board aiming their magnifying glass cutting at six figure administrators other than the students services, teachers, aids and transport!

    • workinforlife says:

      Most of those administrators you talk of have been working their buns off for over 15-20+ years in the school district. They started at the bottom rung and WORKED year after year to make it where they are now. Are you saying that after 20 years of dedication to your job and having the proper schooling and training to continue your job and moving up in your career you should be fired? Or your pay should be cut? What if that was your job?

      Now I’m not saying that the district office (GSB) doesn’t need to cut some fat because they surely do. Is it necessary to have 6+ people working in Benefits? Or how about having curriculum specialists for every single subject taught in a school. We already have a STEM & Service Learning specialist (who does a lot of work with Science) so why hire a Science curriculum specialist? That is a waste right there.

      Or how about the $8,000 raise given to one of the employees in HR because she argued that if she worked in St. John’s County, that’s what she would make and threatened to leave if she wasn’t given the raise….?!?!? Ms. Holiday just couldn’t let her go, she just had to have her so she got that $8,000 raise even though you can’t compare Flagler County to St. John’s County which is probably 3x larger than Flagler. Yep, another waste right there.

      So yes, there are positions that need to be looked at but just to say that someone who’s worked their way up the career ladder should be fired because they now make 6 figure salary isn’t fair. How would you feel about that if it was you? Isn’t that the goal in your working life…to work your way up?

  16. Stevie says:

    Is this what you really want to be forced to pay for??

    Change Agents Infiltrate

    By 1971, the U.S. Office of Education was deeply committed to accessing private lives and thoughts of children. In that year it granted contracts for seven volumes of “change-agent” studies to the RAND Corporation. Change-agent training was launched with federal funding under the Education Professions Development Act. In time the fascinating volume Change Agents Guide to Innovation in Education appeared, following which grants were awarded to teacher training programs for the development of change agents. Six more RAND manuals were subsequently distributed, enlarging the scope of change agentry.

    In 1973, Catherine Barrett, president of the National Education Association, said, “Dramatic changes in the way we raise our children are indicated, particularly in terms of schooling…we will be agents of change.” By 1989, a senior director of the Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory told the fifty governors of American states that year assembled to discuss government schooling, “What we’re into is total restructuring of society.” It doesn’t get much plainer than that. There is no record of a single governor objecting.

    Two years later Gerald Bracey, a leading professional promoter of government schooling, wrote in his annual report to clients: “We must continue to produce an uneducated social class.” Overproduction was the bogey of industrialists in 1900; a century later underproduction made possible by dumbed-down schooling had still to keep that disease in check.

  17. Ryan M. says:

    1. Cup of Coffee Argument: I see that you researched enough to get the number $147,995,484, and the fact that the School Board made a Prezi felt pointless to me. What is wrong with powerpoint? But anyway… You can find more details at the transparency page that Andy Dance posted. I also find it very sad that no one responded to your comment, Brad, made 25 days ago on the presentation website. Here is the link that Andy Dance posted: —>
    ^It shows the budget for the year and gives a sense where the money goes, both revenue and expenditures.

    I found it interesting that in the Prezi they show how the funding has decreased over time. Through research, I found this to be and true with the biggest fall happening in 2008. Thus, when the global market crashed, so did the funding to schools, which to anyone who understands any economics is obvious. After two years of attempting to deal with less funding, it makes sense that they would have to make a cut of 45 minutes of class time to save funding for other things. Now that other things have been cut too now, it seems the priority of class time has raised so if they get more money, the class time will return, which really is the most important thing and it was terrible to cut class time before anything else, like purchasing that iPads that students sometimes use.

    Hopefully after reading through the budget in the link I provided, some of you will feel more comfortable with where your tax payer money is going. I do wish there was some more specifics I could access, but this is a change we apparently need to force the district to make if we want more specific line items for each school or something like that.

    2) I agree with you here. Public safety is huge, but to react by throwing money at the situation is not the best solution. Instead, the school can reconfigure the way visitors must enter the school or have the officer patrol different areas. Safety is important, but the money is needed to go towards education while strategic thinking can be used to solve this problem (most likely).

    3) I once again agree with you with the fact that the school board is all over with facts and figures at times. I also think that approving the .25 mil would have been safe instead of going double or nothing with the county. That was not a bright decision. The part of your comments in section 3 I disagree with is punishing the thousands of students in Flagler county because some adults need “to be taught a lesson”. If they need to be taught a lesson, than why isn’t Mr Corkrin or someone on the board instead right now? (apologizes to the person who ran against Collen Conklin, I don’t recall your name). You as a county chose to elect these officials, punish them when they have a chance to be punished, which is next election.

    I understand that you want to force them to live within their budget, but their budget has been shrinking the past 5 years! The numbers I have found in the transparency reports just show they are trying to slow or stop that shrinking process. Once the economy bounces back more, than more money will flow, and a .5 mil will not be necessary because more money will be circulating. The point of cutting taxes is so that more people spend and more money circulates so more money goes to taxes, but at this point the money circulating is not enough to support a school district without the .5 mil.

    Can I with confidence declare the money put in right now is “not enough”? No, and the school board should give us clear and more numbers to support their opinion. From my research, it appears they need the money.
    Do I have the confidence to say the school board doesn’t need our money to support our students? Hell no.

    Vote yes.

    • Brad W says:

      Ryan, you make great points. But I still disagree. The varying information from Board Members is a clear sign that something is wrong. I like Andy alot, but it’s concerning they are all not on the same page. My intention is not to “teach anyone a lesson” at the expense of children. The problem is exactly what you are saying in that people should vote yes although they have no confidence the money will be used appropriately they are in fear of what the leadership at our schools will take from our kids. There’s a term we use for that . . . bullying, and that’s why I referred to it as such in the Palm Coast Observer. We should NOT just be taking those cuts without questioning.

      The waste in regards to just 3 items in: 1) the schools paying for this election (and they write the check to the tune of $80,000+), 2) $10,000 for an awards “gala”, and 3) the cost of graduation outside of our county total well over $100,000. How much could $100,000+ be useful toward actual education? How about some give and take on both side with the 45 minutes with the union and the leadership? We should have never lost the 45 minutes and now it’s to cost us $2 million because adults can’t come to agreements?

      I’m told that the Union will be here presenting on this tax increase. Do you realize that? May 22nd at the Library. The Union! Why? They have a vested interest in 40 new members coming out of this. That’s sad when Unions start coming in to advocate in our town to increase our taxes.

      You decide.

  18. Colleen Conklin says:

    I am happy to answer your questions to the best of my ability. To say that Brad has misrepresented the information and provided it to you without context would be a gross understatement. I will be hosting a Google Hangout (A Virtual Town Hall) this evening at 8. I would encourage you to attend, get the facts, and context and then decide. An invitation to the Virtual Town Hall meeting can be found on my facebook page at . I’m also happy to answer any questions you may have one on one. Feel free to call me at 386-569-9323. Mr. Dance did a great job putting together a pretty comprehensive Q & A but if you have additional questions give me a call. In addition, each school board member will be in there respective districts on Monday night. Providing presentations for community members about the referendum. The only thing we ask is that you become an educated voter and not make a decision based on a soundbite.

    • Brad W says:


      The presentation linked to in this article is your presentation that you created and that you shared with me in a reply to support your statement on your School Board Facebook Page. Then later you say the information isn’t correct (i.e. budget amounts which when you use the Board presentation you tell me that amount isn’t correct). You presented to me in a reply and it is the graph in your presentation that shows a misleading $82 million drop which you stuck to for several weeks then admitting that “in all fairness” it was $12 million because the rest was construction costs. I know, when someone quotes what you say they are “twisting your words.” right?

      “Answer your questions” is interesting. I asked you why 45 minutes costs $2 million at your meeting at he Govt. Svcs Building . . . no answer that it is to hire 40 teachers. I asked again on your first online presentation . . . again no answer. Instead I get emails to my personal email from you calling me “vile” and stating that I was “personally hurtful towards” you?

      The only “misrepresentation” I’ve seen is your’s. To act with such gross irresponsibility with tax dollars when claiming to have the school’s and community’s best interest at heart, is despicable. It was you who were running for re-election in November and should have insisted this be on the ballot at that time. You and Sue both had the perfect opportunity to speak to it during that time, have it on the ballot, and NOT cost our schools the over $80,000 this election will cost. The parents and teachers I’m sure would prefer that $80,000+ to have actually gone in the classroom along with the other waste you’ve allowed to continue at the expense of our schools and wanting it paid each and every time on the backs of homeowners who are already paying dearly to our schools.

  19. Joe B says:

    Why start a new Technology program which will cost a hefty amount of money when Flagler County had a long standing relationship with the Advanced Technology School. Now is not the time for Supt Valentine to burden the taxpayer with added expense for this venture. What is really going on with pulling out of the consortium with DSC and Volusia County Schools. I don’t think Supt Valentine has been up front with all the details. This is another tract which wll cost the taxpayers millions. Where will this money come from. To many unknowns and too few answers. The taxpayers are fed up and are finally holding people, boards and commissions accountable.

  20. para pro says:

    Thank you for thinking about the ones that make the wheel go round…..
    the ones that get these young children to be independent, strong both mentally and healthy.
    The people that care for others— not just their self.
    People that work for hardly a paycheck but the mental benifits on some days have no money value.
    Thank you for thinking of the people that clean your childs puke,crap and runny noses, get punched, scrachted to the point of really bleeding. That give them shoes, shocks, and even food.
    Para’s do way more than you know for more people than you realize.
    Budget cuts….. start at the top-whats most expensive-
    Also do we really need to spend so much on new computer each year to TRY and keep up with ??????
    There is much more to question but i”m off to all the beautiful smiles that greet me each day.
    I love being a para

    • Brad W says:


      The “thank you” I’m assuming is tongue-in-cheek that those speaking out against this increase caused the cut to those jobs. Is that really fair to point the finger in that direction? And I think your response is a big part of the larger problems with the mindsets of the schools.

      Our schools are tax-payer funded. Tax-payers contribute to their community for A LOT of things. We can’t put everything into just one service. It’s important to prioritize as to “nice to have” and what is “absolutely necessary”. If not, other important services will suffer and no one wins. I get the sense from your response (like others within the schools who have had similar responses to anyone opposed) that it is the homeowners and tax payers that are responsible to provide you with employment. We’ve had unemployment well over 10% for the last few years, should we raise taxes 100000% to give everyone a job? That’s not the way it works. Our schools are already the biggest employer in the county for crying out loud . . . and they are a part of the government.

      You have every right to be upset, but I think this is an example of misplaced frustration. The frustration should be towards the Board and the Administration for their irresponsible waste of our tax dollars at your expense. Our homes aren’t the Schools’ ATM machine. And we can’t provide jobs we can’t afford just because we feel bad an pay for them on the backs of homeowners. There’s nothing right about that. We already give A LOT to the schools and we give the most. Misusing those resources and costing others is not the fault of the residents.

  21. Sherry Epley says:

    My Comments Copied From a Previous Article:

    According to the latest survey by the National School Board Association (NSBA.ORG) the majority of school board members across the nation devote less than 25 hours per week to those duties. Here is a quote about their compensation:

    Board Member Compensation
    Two-thirds of the 759 respondents who provided information about compensation report
    receiving no salary for their board service (see Table 15). Another 9.6 percent report that they earn less
    than $2,000 a year. Just one in five respondents is paid $2,000 or more a year in board salary, and
    only 3.4 percent are paid $10,000 or more. In general, about three-fourths of board members earn
    little or nothing for their service.
    Again, these general figures mask significant variation across districts. Almost 90 percent of
    small-district respondents earn $2,000 a year or less, and none reports earning as much as $10,000 a
    year. While most large-district boards are also generally unpaid, nearly a quarter of large-district
    respondents do earn $10,000 or more per year for their service. Compensation in large districts is put
    into perspective by the earlier finding that a substantial number of board members report devoting 20
    hours or more a week to board affairs.

    By the way. . . our Flagler County Board of Education members make over $30,000 a year for putting in no more than an average of a maximum of 25 hours a week. That equates to about $24.00 an hour for a powerful, part time elected position that essentially has no academic or professional qualifications. For a position that in the majority of states is a voluntary post. Yes, there is fat to be carved in the school districts in Florida, but not in the way that is currently being considered.

    Yes, I am aware that ALL school boards in Florida receive salaries. . . some much higher than Flagler County’s. My point is. . . that practice needs to change state wide. We can begin here in Flagler County by requiring our school board members to stop making budgetary decisions based on protecting their own pay checks. . . and those of high level administrators.

    When our Florida School Boards and executive administrators start cutting their pay, in favor of more money being spent DIRECTLY on higher quality education for the students, I will happily vote for and pay higher taxes for better education for future generations. Let’s require our school board members to put education FIRST, SECOND, and THIRD. . . that is what they were elected to do. . . and nothing else!

    Please remember this situation when it is election time for the next school board.

  22. confidential says:

    New computers every year and I make my living with my 8 years and older computers to be able to pay the taxes that sustain these 6 figures and close to six figures administrators? Who gets financial gratification from the computers and programs vendors? Why isn’t the Board cutting this waste and pays at the top, other than cutting our para-pros and the essentials for our kids education? Simply because the school board has become a rubber stamp for these administrators. Same, as in the other government agencies allover this county!

  23. Off The Wall says:

    I still have not seen any board members or administration come forward and reduce or eliminate their salaries to contribute to the shortfall the school board faces. If they were truly for education and our children, they would move to do so. As others have said in comments on other posts, if any of these school board members were not paid, they wouldn’t be in their current positions. Giving up their salaries would keep more teachers in the classroom to educate our children! Why are we not electing our Superintendt of Schools and holdig her/him accountable to the tax payers?

  24. sue says:

    As I have said before the last person leaving the state of florida please, turn out the light.

  25. Magnolia says:

    Good arguments, Brad. Thanks for writing this editorial. Palm Coast is spending money like we have it and we don’t. For those who feel you have earned this, you may have but we cannot afford you here and now, so you might think of moving north.

    The taxpayers here are being tapped to the max by a local governments with champagne tastes on a beer budget.

    I don’t have anymore to spend, so I’m going to vote no. That’s reality.

  26. IMO says:

    I thought I would go back and check what the current school taxes and property taxes are on my former home. We lived in a school district that had 14 elementary schools and 5 high schools. Where we lived the high schools are grades 7 through 12.

    As of tonight the General Property tax on our former home for 2013 is $5259.18 (Police, Fire, Parks, Road Repair etc.)

    The School taxes for 2013 are $8,639.93 Yes you are reading that number correctly.

    That’s a grand total of $13,899.11 for the “Privilege” of owning a home where we once lived. The state we left also has the high income tax rate. 7. something %. And a 8.25% sales tax.

    Please trust me I am not talking about some rich area but a middle class area very much like Palm Coast.

    Now when we left or should I* say “fled” our former home state the property tax on our home was $4165.40 and the school taxes were $6,605.13. Or a combined total of $10,770.53

    Now where we lived their is a 5 member non paid elected school board but it is the unions along with their political friends that run the school districts. They made no cuts during the last 6 years of this recession. They simply kept raising the tax rates. As home values fell and property assessments were lowered they simply raised the TAX RATES to fill the budegts.

    Since the housing crash of 2007 our former home has lost 44% of it’s assessed value between 2007 and 2013. Yet as you can see from the above numbers the taxes have gone up on that home $3,128.58 or on average $521.63 a year for the past 6 years.

    So I would not be to quick to criticize the paid school board members of Palm Coast. From what I see and read they worked for the people during the recession and housing crisis and did make large budget cuts.

    Recent polls show that 65% of the residents still living in our former area praying they can sell their homes and move to a southern or mid western state. My own brother is desperately trying to sell his home so he can move his family to Palm Coast.

    Palm Coast schools need a $1.99 a month tax increase with a guarantee that the new tax rate will be set in stone until 2017. How can I NOT VOTE for that after what we went through where we fled from?

    I have been here quite a few years now. I have yet to see any child or teenager acting out. The parents of Palm Coast are definitely “My type of parents.” I have to support them and their children with this June 7th vote. Sure we are now fixed income seniors but a $1.99 is definitely not to much to ask for in my way of thinking.

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