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Referendum oversight committee presents annual report

Feb. 9, 2021

The independent committee that oversees Referendum spending presented its annual report at today’s regular School Board meeting.

Since voters originally approved the half-mill tax in 2004, Referendum funds have strengthened reading, art and music programs; provided updated textbooks and technology; and helped recruit and retain quality teachers.

Eighty percent of Referendum revenue funds a salary supplement for teachers. Last school year, every teacher received a $4,724 supplement as part of their base salary. This year’s supplement is $5,231.

The Referendum has traditionally received significant support from the community. In the November 2020 election, nearly 80 percent of voters chose to renew the Referendum, the largest margin since it was first approved.

The Independent Citizens Referendum Oversight Committee (ICROC) meets four times a year to review Referendum spending and ensure that money is spent as voters intended. ICROC Chairman Mitch Lee presented the 2019-2020 report to the School Board.

In addition to sharing several highlights, he told Board members that, because of the Referendum, the district had technology and systems in place to better handle remote learning during school closures last year.

School Board member Laura Hine emphasized the incredible impact the Referendum has on education in Pinellas County Schools and thanked Lee and the rest of ICROC for their volunteer service on the committee.

Victoria Hagedorn, a retired elementary arts teacher who represents Arts for a Complete Education (ACE), commended the committee's diligent oversight and shared her experience before and after the Referendum.

"Prior to the passage of the Referendum, we had have schools and have-not schools," she said.

Many schools did not have active PTAs, she explained, and were unable to augment district funding.

With the passage of the Referendum in 2004, she said, the playing field became more even. All schools now have equitable access to arts equipment, supplies and materials, and teachers have better access to training and technology.

See highlights from the 2019-2020 Annual ICROC Report:

  • 12,263 students participated in 186 field trips to local art museums and galleries.
  • 25 elementary schools benefited from traveling art mobile visits.
  • 70 elementary music classrooms received additional instruments, equipment and supplies.
  • PCS continued its Teaching Artist partnership with the Florida Orchestra.
  • 293 interactive projectors and SMART Boards were installed at 36 schools.
  • 24 teachers from 12 schools participated in the Computer Technology Integration Project (CTIP), which trains and coaches teachers who receive student laptops for their classrooms.
  • Reading classrooms received instructional software, laptops, engaging fiction and non-fiction, class sets of novels and classroom magazines that supplement the core curriculum.
  • Funds continued to support targeted programs that focus on struggling readers in grades K-2.
  • Hundreds of teachers benefited from multiple professional development opportunities, including specific trainings focused on the Florida Standards.

Learn more about the PCS Referendum at