Davis lays out initial plan for millage funds

By Nick Blank
Posted 9/12/18

FLEMING ISLAND – A millage rate increase passed by voters will net the Clay County School District $11 million a year for four years, Superintendent Addison Davis said at the Sept. 6 board …

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Davis lays out initial plan for millage funds

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – A millage rate increase passed by voters will net the Clay County School District $11 million a year for four years, Superintendent Addison Davis said at the Sept. 6 board meeting.

Davis unveiled an outline of how the funds will be spent from 2020-2024 to comply with new state law requiring a school resource officer on every school campus and a “hardening” of school infrastructure.

Davis said about half of the $11 million would go to employing the school officers with yearly bumps in pay over the four-year period. The district wouldn’t see the money until the beginning of 2020.

The district would also set aside about $2.2 million to enhance school lighting, $800,000 on perimeter fencing for schools, $1.6 million on school surveillance and $2 million to improve fire alarms.

In addition to improvements for a main office security update, signage and bolstering public address systems, starting in 2021, the district would set aside funds to employ school resource officers for a fifth year. Davis said staff estimated the district could save about $6.9 million between 2021-2023 to fund a fifth year of officers in schools.

“This is only a four-year millage [rate increase] that we would have money for four years, Davis told board members. “If we’re smart about this money, we could put money on the side every single year to have money for the fifth year, just in case the millage isn’t approved on year five.”

Davis said these numbers were simply a first look at how the funds would be spent and the district still had a question about reducing the district’s number of portable classrooms. In Davis’ presentation, $1 million was set aside for portable reduction in 2022 and $4.6 million in 2023.

He said an option was replacing portables with standalone classrooms due to safety concerns.

“We talk about safety with portables, there’s nothing we can do to enhance the safety of portables,” Davis said.

The millage rate was increased by one mill, from 6.438 mills to 7.438 mills. Board members voted 3-2 to put the referendum on the ballot. The measure passed with almost 53.9 percent of the vote.

Board Chairman Carol Studdard said she was pleased with the presentation and the school board needed every cent of the increase.

“I am so glad finally we have something to show [residents in opposition to the millage rate increase], it’s not like we’re going to have $40 million to fool around with,” Studdard said. “I promise all the citizens that this school board and the superintendent will be good stewards of the revenue that will come from this.”

Board member Janice Kerekes said the district needed the money and was satisfied with what the millage increase would do for improving school safety.

“I’m so happy the citizens of Clay County have agreed with the school board that safety is of the utmost importance,” Kerekes said.

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