- June 20, 2018
During the Sept. 11 Orange County School Board meeting, School Board members approved the district’s 2018-19 budget, which totals $4.7 billion.
OCPS Chief Financial Officer Dale Kelly said the district’s funding priorities this year were compensation to employees; increased dollars for safety and mental health; the funding of 4,971 projected additional students; preservation of academic, arts and athletics programs; and the retainment of qualified teachers.
To support the district’s funding needs, School Board officials adopted a 7.29 millage rate, a decrease from last year’s 7.47 rate. Coupled with the Save Our Homes assessment limitation, which caps increases in the assessed value of a homestead residence, homeowners can expect a lower tax bill, he said.
“With the Save Our Homes limitation on taxes, your overall tax bill will actually go down, because the Save Our Homes limited that increase to 2.1% and our millage rate went down by 2.29%,” Kelly said. “So when you add those property values, on average, with the Save Our Homes cap, you actually have a slight decrease in taxes.”
The property taxes OCPS receives supports the district’s five funds: the operating budget, the capital budget, debt service, special revenue funds and internal service funds — each of which is used for a different purpose.
The operating budget ($2.15 billion) consists primarily of the funds required to run the day-to-day operations of the school district. This includes teacher salaries, ordinary maintenance of facilities, transportation and administration.
The capital budget ($1.86 billion) is used for the construction and renovation of schools.
The debt service budget ($222.5 million) is used for the payment of principal and interest on borrowed funds.
The special-revenue fund ($169.9 million) is associated with the federal grants, federal stimulus funds and operations of the school food service program.
The internal-service fund ($336.5 million) accounts for the costs associated with health insurance, printing and the Property Casualty Loss Fund. It is considered an internal-service fund because the revenues are derived from the operating and special-revenue budgets or employee and retiree contributions.
Kelly added that the capital projects fund this year will allocate $55.4 million into the West Learning Community, which includes the West Orange area.
The funds also will pay for an expansion of the district’s digital curriculum ($58.8 million), bus replacements ($26.6 million), renovation projects ($231.4 million), portable moves and leasing ($33.7 million), charter school capital funding ($6.4 million), district-wide painting ($7 million) and installation of sunshades for tot lots in all existing elementary schools and new schools ($4.5 million).
SAFETY AND SECURITY
OCPS is also increasing its school-hardening measures by using both state and local funds, Kelly said. A state grant is estimated to provide the district with about $7 million for such measures, which will be available in January, he said. And another $6 million is being provided via local funds.
“Another area of emphasis that was determined by the state was the Safe Schools allocation, which increased this year by an additional $6.4 million, and we’re utilizing those funds, along with some other district funds, to add another 104 school resource officers district-wide to bring our total to 222 officers,” he said.
The state and district also is investing in mental health. Money allocated toward mental health initiatives will be used to provide 45 positions to support mental health, including 18 mental health counselors, 10 school psychologists and five social workers, Kelly said.