Friday, October 9, 2020

School Boards Pushing for New Property Taxes - Beware

Tampa Bay, Fl Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

No matter where you live on Florida’s West Coast, you've probably been seeing in the newspaper and hearing on your local TV station superintendents of schools and perhaps the chairman of the school board lamenting the fact that they are running short of money.

Along with these hues and cries for more funding are efforts to place new school board and school system property tax referendums on either the current or the upcoming ballot.

For most Florida school systems, budget time is upon them. Now no doubt school systems have incurred some additional costs related to the COVID-19 virus, the decision to reopen schools, and the requirement to follow state and local guidelines as they perform those reopenings.

However, there are other issues impacting school board revenues. First,  there's the slow but steady move of students from the public-school system to private and charter schools. What most people don't know or understand is that public school funding at the local school board level is determined not by how much is budgeted but how many students attend every single day.

As parents and students make the conscious decision to leave the public-school system for any number of reasons not the least of which is it's not meeting their needs they take with them the daily funding for their students. So a great portion of the declining revenue of the public school system is directly due to the way, the school boards and the school systems provide their service, which is an education for the students.

Voters need to be wary of school superintendents and the chairman of school boards pleading for more money to educate fewer students. There is hardly a school system and a school administration on the West Coast of Florida that is not overloaded and over bloated with special programs. All of these special programs like the arts and sports should be addressed before citizens approve any increases in property tax or new educational property tax referendums.

Frequently promoted on the backs of cutting specialized services such as services to students with special needs, the arts, and other similar types educational efforts most of this rhetoric is designed to produce emotional reactions rather than practical review of the real-world situation.

One could well make the argument that the purpose of the public-school system is to prepare students for a life in the real world. To equip them with the educational tools to either go on to advanced education or to enter the workforce.

Before you start voting to approve property tax referendums for public schools, which will be with you forever, it might be a good idea to suggest to your school board that they do both an administrative review and a curriculum review.

Special needs education should never be on the table as an economic bargaining chip. These are among our most vulnerable students. All of us bear an obligation to provide help and educational support to these most challenged among us.

Maybe it's time for those who would like an elitist education at the public-school level to pay part of the bill of providing that educational service in the form of tuition.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Janet Long breaks Florida’s campaign financing law for 2nd time this year

Tampa, Fl 
From: Tampa Bay Guardian

Edited by: Tom Rask

Posted by TBG2016onOCTOBER 2, 2020

Voters received a mailer from Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long yesterday. It was a typical mailer, but one thing stuck out like a sore thumb to one of our readers because of the absence of the “paid political advertisement disclaimer” on Long’s mailer. That disclaimer is required by Florida’s campaign financing law.

Long and her campaign should have known to include that disclaimer since they earlier this year six times failed to include the required disclaimer in her campaign e-mails. Long is the subject of a Florida Elections Commissions complaint as a result of those violations earlier this year. Also, the disclaimer requirement is the very first thing that Florida’s campaign financing law talks about, indicating that the Florida Legislature thought it was important.

The Guardian contacted Janet Long via e-mail and asked: how can voters trust you to follow the law when this is the second time this year you fail to adhere to Florida’s campaign financing law? We also said that if she had any comments for publication, we’d be happy to receive them.

We did not receive from Long by the time deadline we provided her, so we contacted her opponent for comment instead.

Larry Ahern
Larry Ahern

“I would ask the people of Pinellas County what they think of this campaign law violation,” said former State Representative Larry Ahern in an e-mail to the Guardian. “The people trust that their elected officials follow the law at all times, even during campaign season.”

Ahern, an Air Force veteran and small business owner, served in the Florida Legislature from 2010 to 2018 before having to step aside due to Florida’s term limit.  Coincidentally, Ahern won that seat by defeating Janet Long in 2010.

Ahern is running against Janet Long again, this time for county-wide seat 1 on the Pinellas County Commission. Long has held that seat since 2012.

In 2013, the Florida Ethics Commission determined that Long broke Florida Ethics Laws and violated the Florida Constitution by filing an incorrect required financial disclosure form during her 2012 run.

In 2016, Long incorrectly claimed that the Pinellas County hotel tax that is used for tourist development “can be used for transit.”  Florida law does not permit it to be used that way.  Long is a long-time supporter of transit, even though transit use has been steadily declining across the nation for years, and even more rapidly during the virus.

Janet Long
In 2017, Long made provably false allegations during an interview with SaintPetersBlog.Com. In that same interview, Long also called the work of a local transportation agency “bullshit.”

Later in 2017, while serving on the PSTA board, Long called a bus route decision “insane,” even though she has herself voted for it two years earlier. Long did so without acknowledging her previous support for that decision.

Long will turn 76 three days after election day, Ahern is 65. Given Long’s erratic behavior, should her age be a consideration?

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.


READ THIS POST AT: Tampa Bay Guardian

This post is contributed by the Tampa Bay Guardian. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet or any publications, blogs or social media pages where it may appear.

Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Guardian


Sunday, October 4, 2020

School Board Elections One of The Most Important Votes You'll Cast

 Tampa Bay, Fl 

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

As those ballots are showing up, and you're considering who you're going to vote for be sure you don't miss your local school board elections.

In fact, these candidates may be the ones you know the least about with the possible exception of the Judges that appear on the Florida ballot.

Actually, school board members are some of the most important elected public officials in your County. They control the school systems both from a business an academic perspective; they pick who the school superintendent will be; and they also hear your grievances,, complaints, requests, and criticisms of the schools and the people who manage them teach in them and operate them.

It would be a very good idea to go to your local newspaper and check the candidate recommended list and see who they are recommending for your local school board members. In addition, it would be an even better idea if you spend some time actually researching the candidates for your local school board.

These elections for school board members are generally nonpartisan but these days no election is really nonpartisan.

There are also a lot of people with special interests desiring to elect a voice that echoes their sentiments and feelings as it comes to the school board and dealing with what are going to be very difficult issues in the future such as financing, budget cuts, and requests for property tax increases.

That last item, property tax increases, is going to come front and center right after November third (3).

If you've been following the news, you may have already seen some of the school superintendents in some of the larger districts such as Hillsborough and Pinellas County beginning to lay the groundwork to request for a property tax increase to fund the public school system.

You should find out how potential candidates and incumbents feel about the funding challenges that their specific school boards are going to be facing in 2021 and 2022.

Be a bit careful when you're picking a candidate for school board to vote for in regard to who endorses them such as the teachers union that supports them and what their actual reason for running for the school board may be.

Many people run for school board out of a grievance perspective where they are either unhappy with something that's happened to one of their children in the school system, or they're just generally opposed to the whole prospect of charter schools or public education or some other one issue. These people rarely do a good functional job serving for multiple years on the school board.

Even though the presidential race or your local, state or US House of Representative race or a Senate race may be your passion as it evolves in this particular election cycle, don't give a passing vote to a school board candidate that you don't know anything about .

There is way too much at stake.

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