School Board Urges Desantis to Veto HB5007, Accept Federal Aid
Last updated 6/3/2020 at 1:24pm
In a special meeting on Tuesday, May 28, the Polk County School Board voted unanimously to sign and send an open letter to Governor Ron DeSantis. The aim of the open letter was to encourage DeSantis to veto HB5007. It also urged the governor to meet the application deadline for education funding through the CARES Act that was passed in late March.
HB5007 was passed Feb. 13, a full month before COVID-19 struck. If passed, the bill would increase the rate that state employers pay into the Florida Retirement System, and state employers would be paying for the increase. The letter stated, "approximately $404 million across all state employers, roughly $233 million will be borne by school districts." The increase would, "cost Polk County (Schools) about $9 million in revenues," and leave the district with a "$35 per student deficit.
District 3 School Board Member Sarah Fortney urged there be a sense of solidarity in the Board's move to approve and send the letter to Tallahassee.
"I can't impress upon us, being the collective whole of Polk County, to let them know what a financial issue that is, was, and will be for our district," she said.
In other matters, Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd reminded Polk residents that June 16 will be the next work session and meeting of the School Board. The work session starts 9 a.m., and the meeting at 12:30 p.m.
Before then, a work session will take place June 4, to start the search for a new Superintendent of Polk County Public Schools, following Byrd's announced retirement in February 2021.
(Editor's note: BartowNews.net has reached out to school board members and Polk County Public Schools for further information, but has not yet heard back. Updates will be given as more is learned.)