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Citizens committee reviews Referendum spending

Nov. 14, 2023

Technology was the star of the Referendum oversight committee meeting. The committee met on Monday to review spending for the first quarter of the fiscal year.  

The Independent Citizens Referendum Oversight Committee (ICROC) meets four times a year to ensure that funds from the Referendum are spent as voters intended.

Funds from the half-mill property tax boost reading, music and art programs; provide up-to-date technology and textbooks; and help recruit and retain quality teachers. The district expects to receive about $67 million from the Referendum this year. Eighty percent of Referendum funds are allocated for teacher salaries. This school year, teachers will receive a salary supplement of $6,328.

“This committee does a great job of representing our community and holding us accountable for our taxpayer dollars,” Chief Academic Officer Dr. Dan Evans told the group.

Staff members provided an overview of the Referendum budget and presented spending reports for each area. This week's meeting spotlighted technology.

Kim Hill, who heads the Office of Student Experience, and Sarah Truelson, a Program Coordinator for Digital Learning, shared highlights over the past few months and showcased a Referendum-supported Digital Learning Summer Conference.

About 150 teachers had the opportunity to attend the conference, which featured Keynote Speaker John Spencer, an educator who specializes in empowering students and fostering creativity. Breakout sessions covered topics such as research tools, interactive and collaborative lessons, research tools, graphic design and STEM.

Committee members also participated in an interactive game during the meeting. They tested their Referendum knowledge using a Referendum-funded learning platform called Quizizz. No surprise: They all did well. And ICROC Chair Raegan Miller aced the quiz, winning the top prize, an elementary-level book, The Magician’s Hat by Malcolm Mitchell. 

The PCS Director of Charter School and Home Education Bonnie Solinsky also presented a report on how charter schools use Referendum funds. Charter schools are public schools and receive Referendum funding based on their student enrollment.  

Other key Referendum-funded expenditures included: 

  • 12 Summer Visual Arts Camps serving 350 students, including mural making, 3-D printing and moviemaking
  • Digital Arts labs, furnished with tablets, cameras, printers and other equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Band uniforms and costumes
  • Performing arts consultants, including a new percussion consultant
  • Teacher training opportunities
  • All-County concerts and funding to jumpstart new All-County dance and theater programs
  • Books, literacy resources and staff to support the Florida Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking (B.E.S.T.) standards
  • Funding for Boys Book Battle, a special competition to engage boys in reading and close the gap between boys and girls

See additional details in the ICROC Quarter 1 reports. Learn more about the Referendum.