Background on the Education Referendum
In November 2018, we educated voters in Hillsborough County about the benefits of a half-penny sales tax Education Referendum.
The money would go solely to improving the facilities and other capital projects in our schools - replacing air conditioning units, improving old roofs, enhancing security systems, and repaving parking lots, among other necessary projects.
Voters showed up in force and approved the Education Referendum.
In proposing the Referendum, district leaders committed to spending at least $500,000 at every school. We are proudly well on the way to fulfilling that commitment.
The half-penny sales tax was estimated to raise approximately $121-131 million per year for ten years. Much of that will be generated by the many visitors that come to the Tampa Bay area, but all of it will benefit students in Hillsborough County.
Once the referendum passed, a Citizen Oversight Committee was assembled to oversee the spending and completion of the school improvement projects.
Working together to provide clear and transparent referendum information to the families and citizens of Hillsborough County, the Citizen Oversight Committee meets monthly to oversee and discuss the school improvement projects that are funded by the Education Referendum.
The committee is made up of an impressive group with a longstanding commitment to the children and families of Hillsborough County. The committee takes great consideration as they review the spending, progress and completion of the projects funded by the half-penny sales tax.
Funding from the half-penny sales tax Education Referendum is spent on specific projects to improve our public schools:
Those specific projects include:
- Replacing or overhauling air conditioners
- Fixing leaky roofs
- Exterior and interior painting
- Upgrading safety and security systems
- Providing state-of-the-art equipment
- New classroom technology
Since our first round of funds arrived in April of 2019 - $9 million from that January’s sales tax collections - we have completed more than 330 projects.
During the summer of 2021, fourteen major construction projects, including air conditioning overhauls are taking plan in our schools, totaling an estimated $73 million. This includes ten new projects and four carryover projects.
We have been conservative in our project planning and have reduced our work by 30% due to the economic impact from COVID-19. At this time, we are estimated to be down $4 million overall from what we originally projected would come in with referendum dollars.
As of June 2021, we have invested more than $246 million into our schools with 80% of the projects awarded to local businesses and 25% awarded to small and minority-owned businesses. Our district uses more minority-owned businesses than other districts in the area.