Miami-Dade Schools

Carvalho‘s budget to cut tax rate while increasing Miami-Dade school spending

 
 
FILE--Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, talks about the new school year during a swearing-in ceremony for nine new school-resource officers at the School Board Administration Building in Downtown, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013.
FILE--Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, talks about the new school year during a swearing-in ceremony for nine new school-resource officers at the School Board Administration Building in Downtown, Friday, Aug. 16, 2013.
DANIEL BOCK / FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

dsmiley@MiamiHerald.com

With caution, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho laid out the framework Wednesday for a $2.9 billion general fund budget that he says will increase schools spending by millions next year while also reducing the property tax rate.

But the district’s budget crunchers also warned that what they see as overly optimistic tax-revenue projections from the property appraiser’s office will force the School Board to again stash away millions in “rainy day” funds.

“It’s not a budget that makes everybody happy,” Carvalho said. “But what in life is?”

The spending plan presented by Carvalho and Chief Financial Officer Judith Marte is not the district’s official budget. The complete document will not be established until later this month, when the state education commissioner certifies Miami-Dade’s tax rolls and sets a minimum local tax rate. After that, the School Board can choose to increase the rate up to an amount capped by the state.

But even as the district waits, Carvalho said “the work is pretty much done,” and he committed to taxpayers paying a lower tax rate than last year. He also wants the district to spend an extra $43 million on schools, largely through increased spending for teachers and counselors at elementary and high schools.

He said Wednesday that no teachers would lose their jobs for financial reasons, although declining enrollment at specific schools can always mean a shuffling in the workforce.

Also in the budget: A record $375 million for charter schools, dozens of new student-choice programs — such as magnet schools — and an extra $35 million heading into reserves. The last, he said, is necessary because the school district expects local tax revenues to fall short of the property appraiser’s rosy tax-base projections.

The problem, Carvalho said, is that the state expects Miami-Dade’s tax base and revenues to grow less than 5 percent. But the property appraiser has estimated the growth at more than 9 percent, and the state will pull back some funding in the expectation that local tax dollars will fill the gap.

District officials have been concerned for more than a year about property tax collections that now fall short by tens of millions of dollars, leaving the district to fill the gap with its reserves.

On Wednesday, School Board member Raquel Regalado suggested that the board consider filing a lawsuit over the tax-collection issue, which is overseen by the county’s Value Adjustment Board.

“I don’t think there’s any interest at the County Commission to resolve this issue,” said Regalado. “At this point, I don’t think we have any other choice.”

Carvalho also said the budget provides for about a dozen more schools police officers, and for a health clinic the district is opening at Miami Jackson Senior High School. A School Board meeting to vote on a lower tax rate is scheduled for July 16.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Friends and Neighbors: Campaign raises money to feed hungry school children

    Local food banks want to help children who often go hungry get what they need to thrive in school. Community support is needed.

  • Friends and Neighbors

    Florida Mayors join forces to say no to bullies

    Looking back at my growing up days, I can remember how school bullies tried to made life miserable for me and a lot of other youngsters. I remember being followed home one day by a bully who wanted to start a fight. When I kept ignoring her, she soon turned, with her followers and went home. Unlike some of today’s bullies, she didn’t try to hit me. She was just all mouth, spitting out insulting remarks.

  • Crime Watch

    Crime Watch: How to protect your children online

    School will be starting soon and many of you emailed me regarding the social network sites that your kids will be using this year. Nowadays it’s not just the computer at home but also their smartphones. You need to consider blocking your kids’ phones from some of these sites. Check with your telephone carrier to see what programs they have to offer in protecting kids.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category