- PCS Newsroom
Independent committee keeps tabs on Referendum spending
June 19, 2020
The Independent Citizens Referendum Oversight Committee (ICROC) met Thursday, June 18. The committee meets four times a year to ensure that money collected through the Referendum is spent as voters intended.
Referendum funds strengthen reading, art and music programs; provide up-to date technology and textbooks; and help recruit and retain quality teachers. Every penny of the money collected through the Referendum is locally controlled and supports Pinellas County students and teachers.
Pinellas County residents have voted to renew the half-mill tax every four years since it was first approved in 2004. A continuation of the Referendum will be on the Nov. 3 ballot, pending approval by the Pinellas County Commission on June 23.
At the ICROC meeting, district administrators and supervisors shared how funds were spent during the third quarter. They also took time to tell the committee how the Referendum enabled the district to better handle challenges faced during the pandemic. Presentations were made by Associate Superintendent of Finance & Business Services Kevin Smith and supervisors of reading, visual arts, performing arts and technology.
Associate Superintendent of Teaching & Learning Kevin Hendrick shared that the district distributed 26,000 devices to students for digital learning and enrichment during the health crisis. While the majority of devices were not purchased with Referendum funds, the Referendum has been invaluable because it provided the district with Technology Integration Coordinators, who received Referendum-funded training and were able to train staff in skills and programs necessary for digital learning.
Prior to the pandemic, Technology Integration Coordinators provided coaching for 24 teachers from 12 schools as part of another Referendum-funded program, the Computer Technology Integration Project. Also known as CTIP, the program helped the district get more laptops into the hands of teachers to support teaching and learning. Because of their training, those teachers had the skills they needed to better handle the pandemic and support other teachers, according to Director of Media, Text and Digital Learning Dr. Connie Kolosey.
Thanks to the Referendum, teachers had access to resources that enabled them to work with their students to do virtual performances, which are more complicated than they appear, said Performing Arts Specialist Jeanne Reynolds. She also shared that growth in the use of digital learning will help the district reach more students interested in music, including those who may have transportation or schedule challenges.
Pinellas County Schools had to cancel multiple art shows and receptions because of the pandemic, but the district was able to host virtual receptions and art shows to honor our talented students. All of the artwork can be viewed in thel PCS digital gallery, which includes the Creative Conquests Virtual Exhibition, featuring works created by students during the health crisis.
Due to the pandemic, the district switched from in-person summer art camps to virtual ones, and thanks to the Referendum, PCS was able to buy art supplies for nearly 200 students, said Visual Arts Specialist Jonathan Ogle.
The Referendum is up for renewal in November. Learn more about the Referendum at www.pcsb.org/referendum.