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School board calls special meeting

By Staff | Feb 1, 2018

The Lee County School Board has called a special meeting for Monday morning to reconsider and possibly modify its decision to hold a special election for a proposed half-penny sales tax.

The tax, if voter-approved, would help cover costs of capital improvements for the schools, as well as fund numerous construction projects.

The board decided last week to hold a special election in May at a projected cost of almost one million dollars.

“There’s a couple issues at play in working with the Lee County commissioners and some of the community interests and the (local state) legislators,” Rob Spicker, district spokesperson, said late Thursday. “In terms of probably and perhaps moving the date from what we were first thinking in May.”

The notice for the special board meeting states “It is to consider and take action concerning the schools sales tax referendum.”

According to the posted agenda, Superintendent Gregory K. Adkins recommends the sales tax referendum be placed on the General Election ballot.

“I recommend the School Board adopt a replacement resolution to place the school sales tax referendum on the November 6, 2018 general election ballot,” the agenda states under Superintendent’s Recommendations.

One of the main concerns school board members have expressed with putting this vote on the General Election ballot – where the cost to the district would only be $50 – is that the ballot will be crowded with complex issues, as well as candidates running for numerous positions, including the Florida governor’s race.

They say they fear voters will be occupied with all the other decisions that need to be made on that ballot, and not be able to fully educate themselves about what district officials say is the importance of this sales tax.

“We want the voters to go into that voting booth with only one issue on that ballot,” Steven Teuber, School Board member, said in an earlier interview. “We want voters to understand why we’re doing it and why it’s a good decision.”

During the School Board meeting held last week to set the referendum date, residents showed up to voice their disapproval of a special election.

School Board members sat and listened as critics hammered its cost and District spending.

Also perking along are Senate Bill 372 and House Bill 317, companion bills going through the State Legislature. The bills would require that special referendums requested by a local government such as this go on the November ballot.

If approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, the law would go into effect immediately.

“There’s a couple different factors at work and that’s a legislator working with the (county) commissioners and just working with the community on the special election,” Spicker said. “So, all those factors are playing into the board wanting to have this special meeting.”

The special meeting is set to begin at 8 a.m. and is open to the public.