Last night, the Okaloosa School Board was presented with the plan to roll out a half-cent sales tax option from local attorney, and initiative supporter, Michelle Anchors. The goal will be to get the half-cent tax question placed on the November general election ballot.
If successful, this would mean roughly $20 million annually for our local schools. It was standing-room only as Anchors spoke before the board.
“Just as our businesses and the private sector require financial strength to survive and thrive”, said Anchors, “so do schools in Okaloosa County.”
“We can do better in our funding of public schools and we should. We can do so by supporting enthusiastically a ballot question in 2020 that asks Okaloosa voters to support a half-cent sales tax to make sure our schools are safe and to make sure that our schools are strong”, Anchors told the board.
The idea of a half-cent sales tax to fund the capital-school needs is certainly not a new one. Less than 24 months ago, Anchors appeared before the board with the same idea and plan.
The timing, however, was wrong given the scandal of former Superintendent of Schools, Mary Beth Jackson.
“We cannot wait”, Anchors told board. “The revenue from a half-cent sales tax would bring in approximately $20 million a year in funding for capital needs. A good part of which is paid by tourists who visit our beautiful area. To anyone who asks whether this ballot initiative is too soon, I ask…how can we possibly afford to wait?”
The School Cents Makes Sense campaign will work with parents and teachers to find out what are the needs and bring back a recommendation for a project for every single school in Okaloosa County that could be funded by half-cent sales tax.
Dr. Kelley describes witnessing an umbrella catching water from a leak
“Just today I visited a school not too far from us”, said School Board Member Diane Kelley. “And the secretary, when I walked in, had an umbrella turned upside down hanging from one of the rafters to keep rain from falling onto her computer and her desk space. That’s just one of hundreds of examples across the school district that you could find. Again, we are patching and keeping them up-to-date as quickly as we can but they happen so rapidly now with these aging buildings that it takes us almost daily to put a bandaid on them.”
Although Anchors was not asking for any formal vote at last night’s meeting, Superintendent of Schools Marcus Chambers did ask if the board could vote to allow him to direct staff to work with the campaign and get the campaign all information that needed regarding needs.
The vote was unanimous.