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Classes start for Lee students Aug. 10

By Staff | Aug 4, 2016

Starting today shoppers can keep a little extra cash in their pockets with the tax-free holiday.

The Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday kicked off at midnight and will run up through midnight on Aug. 7. During this period, Florida law directs that no sales tax or local option tax – or discretionary sales surtax – will be collected on certain purchases, the Florida Department of Revenue reported.

Purchases that are eligible for the tax-free holiday include clothing, footwear and certain accessories selling for $60 or less per item, as well as certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item.

The holiday does not apply to:

* Any item of clothing selling for more than $60

* Any school supply item selling for more than $15

* Books that are not otherwise exempt

* Personal computers and computer-related accessories

* Rentals or leases of any of these items

* Repairs or alterations of any of these items

* Sales of clothing or school supplies in a theme park, entertainment complex, public lodging establishment or airport

The National Retail Federation reported that this year’s total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $75.8 billion, up from $68 billion last year. Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend an average $673.57 on apparel and accessories, electronics, shoes and supplies – up from $630.36.

When it comes to school shopping, no tax is due on any clothing, wallet or bag, including handbags, backpacks, fanny packs and diaper bags, according to the Department of Revenue. Clothing means any article of wearing apparel, including footwear. Items such as briefcases and watches are not covered.

Some examples of school supplies include pens, pencils, crayons, notebook paper, legal pads, binders, lunch boxes, construction paper, folders, poster board, composition books, scissors and calculators.

Computer and printer paper, masking tape, staples and staplers are taxable items.

According to the Department of Revenue, the tax-free “personal computer” term includes any electronic book reader, laptop, desktop, handheld, tablet and tower computer. Items not included are cell phones, video game consoles, digital media receivers and devices not used to process data.

The first day of school for the School District of Lee County is Aug. 10.

Florida’s ninth-largest district, Lee County educates over 90,000 students in grades K-12, according to its website. Enrollment figures for the 2016-17 school year were not readily available on Thursday.

A report from May indicates that more than 19,000 students attended schools in Cape Coral.

The district also employs 12,000-plus full-time and part-time employees.

Back-to-school information can be found online at: www.leeschools.net/backtoschool.

“Parents can access the same information through the Lee County Public Schools app,” Jennifer DeShazo, a spokeswoman for the School District of Lee County, said. “Android and iOS devices.”

For the 2016-17 school year, the Cape Coral Charter School Authority is expecting an enrollment figure of approximately 3,200 students. The charter system employs about 400 staff members.

“We increased a little bit, but we really did not because we are plumb full,” Superintendent Nelson Stephenson said. “It’s not a matter of people not wanting to be here, it’s a matter of not having space.”

“We have a robust waiting list,” he added.

The focus for the year is the importance of culture and that the system is a family.

“At the welcome back ceremony for teachers, we had a parent and her son speak to our staff members about how grateful they were that our system was there when they needed us,” Stephenson said, explaining that the boy is a cancer survivor. “It brought tears to many.”

At the event, new and veteran employees were recognized.

“We also had staff complete a 30-second commercial related to why our system was so amazing,” he said. “The resulting videos were a lot of fun and really did highlight the strengths of our system.”

Going into the new year, the system is celebrating its first, five-year AdvancED Accreditation.

“We’ve never received that before so this is the first time we’ve got it,” Stephenson said.

A $450,000 technology infrastructure renovation will allow for the addition of a myriad of technology platforms and increase the system speeds. All four campuses received a fiber optic network upgrade.

“Next we’re going to focus on the hardware technology in the classroom,” he said.

Future fundraisers will be announced as the year progresses.

“It’s time for our system to upgrade,” Stephenson said. “We want to be ahead of everyone else.”

For the new year, the schools want to focus more on problem-based, real world-problem solving, especially with using technology. There will also be more project-based learning, where students work on long-term projects to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question or problem.

For example, the high school has a drone program. He noted that anyone can buy and fly a drone, but the students will learn how to design and build one, then learn about possible related career options.

Students will also step outside of the box when it comes to the typical school garden.

“They will look at genetically what’s happening with the plants using technology,” Stephenson said.

“That’s the kind of things we want to do with technology,” he added.

Oasis Elementary will welcome a new principal, Donnie Hopper. He replaces Steve Hook.

“Donnie has many years of previous experience working in Lee County Schools, and we are happy to welcome him onboard,” Stephenson said.

For the charter system’s back-to-school information, visit: www.capecharterschools.org.

For more information about the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday or to view a list of tax-exempt items, visit the Florida Department of Revenue’s website online at: dor.myflorida.com/.