Volusia County half-penny sales tax on the ballot

Volusia County half-penny sales tax on the ballot

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DELAND, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Volusia County Council has placed a referendum on the August 26th primary ballot asking voters if the half-penny sales tax for schools should continue for another 15 years. The vote was procedural.

Volusia County Schools are the ones asking for the money.  District Spokeswoman Nancy Wait says the needs have changed since the last version of the tax. At its inception, the district was struggling to keep up with growth.  Now, maintaining schools has become a challenge.

"Now, our schools are aging, and we also have needs in safety because things have changed tremendously in how we've built our schools before."

Wait says the district would use $45 million of the money on school safety improvements, making all schools in the county single entry, and adding cameras on both campuses and buses.

"Really, the best for best practice is to have the one entrance into a school, so that you can control who's coming onto your site. So we are talking about fences. We're talking about panic buttons. We're talking about cipher locks. All of those types of things, and not only on our campuses, but on our buses."

The district would like to spend $111 million replacing five aging schools, and Wait says they also want $135 million for new technology.

"We would upgrade all of our computer systems in all of our schools. We are looking to upgrade our middle schools, our science labs."

All middle schools would get new science labs, and many schools would also be wired for new technology.  Wait says if voters do not approve the tax, it will be back to the very basics.

"We just don't have the capital funds to do those projects. Right now, we are focusing on the things that are emergencies, the emergencies that come through the doors, that's what gets fixed. So we need to plan."

The school district also plans on replacing several roofs and HVAC systems. You can see the project lists here.

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