Broward educators plea for support of campus safety, salary increase referendum

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Broward County residents can soon vote on a proposed tax hike that would help support securing students while on campus and increase teachers’ salary.

Educators gathered to plea with Broward County homeowners for their vote on the referendum, Tuesday.

“It is unbelievable to me that we now have to beg you to vote yes on this referendum in order to pay teachers a decent wage and keep our kids safe in school,” said one educator.

Due to low state funding, educators are hoping that residents will help make for up what is needed to keep students safe when they are at school and increase teachers’ salaries.

“In a school district where we are still healing from the tragedy we experienced just six months ago, ensuring that our children and their educators are safe at school has to be our top priority,” said Broward Teachers Union president Anna Fusco.

Behavior technician Kathy Foster said the increased salary would help immensely since she’s struggling to make ends meet.

“I do two, three jobs,” Foster said. “I’m a painter, I’m a caterer, I remove trash, I do whatever I can to make the day-to-day living to pay the rent, buy groceries and put food on the table for my kids.”

The proposed tax increase would raise about $93 million a year over the four years it would be collected, as of July 2019.

“It’s an investment to the average homeowner of about $10 per month. For a condominium owner, that investment is about $5 per month,” said Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.

District officials said $18.6 million a year would be spent on security. They also said $7.4 million a year would be spent for more guidance counselors and social workers to deal with mental health issues in school. The largest chunk of the money, $67 million per year, would go toward teacher and staff pay increases.

School district officials said that even with the proposed property tax increase, Broward homeowners would still be paying one of the lowest rates among large school districts in Florida.

Runcie said this is a small price to pay for safety and quality education. According to the superintendent, the program, which funds school infrastructure improvements got off to a slow start.

“Our first referendum we’ve done in about 30 years, so it took us some time on the front side,” Runcie said, “so be able to change some of our business processes, put the right team of people in place, make some other changes to make sure we can get it done right. This will actually automatically impact our teachers’ pocketbooks from the first day.”

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