Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Brevard County School Board Approves $5 Million Transfer From Sales Tax For Fencing


UPDATE: 

The Brevard County School Board approved the temporary transfer of over $5 million from the half-cent sales tax fund for fencing by a 4 to 1 vote with Tina Descovich as the sole "no" vote.

Desovich cited the sloppiness of the multi-million dollar contract and her belief that projects should be paid as the tax money is collected rather than borrowing from the future as her reasons for voting no.

According to a press release issued by Brevard Public Schools after the vote, the fencing project was accelerated because Superintendent Dr. Desmond Blackburn and other leaders "ultimately decided it was impossible to prioritize which children and staff should be made safer sooner while others waited years, as the original plan called for."

Previous Story:

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida - The Brevard County Public School administration will try once again to temporarily transfer over $5 million from the half-cent sales tax fund to expedite fencing around schools during the Brevard Public School Board meeting that begins at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. 

The proposal was withdrawn from last month's School Board meeting agenda after the proposal was reported by Brevard Times and criticized by conservative radio talk show host Bill Mick.


According to documents filed with the School Board, the multi-million dollar transfer may limit BPS' ability to fund other facilities projects until future sales tax revenue is recovered.

Another risk noted in the agenda item is that if the sales surtax revenues do not reach the projected $198 million, any shortfall would need to be covered by capital funds in order to complete the facility renewal program.

The proposal does not provide any reason as to why there is an urgent need to tie up facility funding for other projects in order to accelerate the fencing project.

A cost benefit analysis submitted by BPS' Chief Financial Officer, Pennie Zuercher, notes that the accelerated fencing proposal will not result in any cost savings to the School Board.



"BPS will be spending most of its time and surtax money this summer on major building-renewal projects – new pipes, AC systems, electrical – that were the biggest problem addressed by voters," BPS spokesman Matt Reed said when multi-million dollar transfer was first proposed in May.

"However, it also will accelerate measures to improve security for our students including the installation of heavy-duty gates, security fencing and perimeter fencing that help keep intruders out of school breezeways while keeping excitable children from running off.  This isn’t just cyclone fencing around a playground.  The design and installation is one component of plans guided by the Brevard Sheriff’s Office, which now runs district security. "

Reed said that the goal of the fencing projects are to channel school visitors to a single point of access, where they are met with other precautions including a new badging system and nearby school resource officers.

"The eight-year work plan approved by voters called for spending 3 percent of the surtax money on security improvements including the gates and fencing," said Reed. "And, that’s what BPS had spent as of the start of spring semester. The plan calls for spending 83.5 percent on building repairs and renewal and 13.5 percent on updated computers and educational technology. The independent oversight committee and outside auditors confirmed spending had matched those percentages, too."