Palm Beach County’s public school system hopes to persuade voters to raise the county sales tax, but its public explanation of how it would spend the extra $1.3 billion fits on just one page.
Unlike the Palm Beach County government, which four months ago released a detailed list of every construction project it would undertake with its share of the sales tax money, the school district so far is giving voters few details of how and where the money would be spent.
The single-page “sales tax project list,” which will be presented today to school board members, breaks down the $1.3 billion into 30 general spending categories, such as “classroom technology,” “compliance” and “building envelope.” (The second page outlines projects to be paid from other sources.)
But the document contains no information about where and how the school district would spend money in those broad categories.
A separate document to be reviewed by the school board lists every school in the county and the categories of work slated at each one but, similarly, says nothing about the extent of work at each campus or the projected costs.
County commissioners criticized the school district in the spring for failing to release details of how it would spend its share of the sales tax increase, and Superintendent Robert Avossa has said at least twice since then that the district would release more information.
School district officials declined to answer questions about their sales tax list on Tuesday but released a statement promising more information in the future.
“As soon as the project list is approved we look forward to answering questions our parents and community may have (and you) about how schools are benefiting from the sales tax revenue,” the district said.
“We will also host a public web page that will provide a list of projects by school and for various district projects that have an overarching benefit to all students and schools.”
No timeline was given for providing that information.
With voters set to decide on the one-cent sales tax hike in November, officials in the school district, the county government and the county’s cities are moving to make their case that the increase is needed to repair decaying infrastructure.
Last month, a school district report concluded that it would cost nearly $1.2 billion to make all of the “critical” repairs needed for the district’s growing backlog of deteriorating buildings and equipment at 196 school facilities.
You can read the one-page plan here.