Cox sees improved economic outlook
Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING - After being sworn into his fourth term in office Nov. 20, Superintendent Wally Cox said the financial and funding outlook for the district is the best it has been in the past five years.
Published: November 26, 2012
Published: November 26, 2012
The state's sales tax revenues are starting to improve slightly, and the state predicts sales tax increases over the next couple of years, he said. The district receives 60 percent of its money from the state and 90 percent of that state money comes from sales taxes.
The revenue is based on collections statewide, not just in Highlands County, Cox said. So, despite a slower recovery in Highlands County compared to other areas like Orlando, Highlands County would benefit from an overall improvement in the state's economy.
Cox noted that student enrollment has increased this year, which brings in more state revenue.
The mid-November enrollment count shows an increase of 113 students compared to last year.
After peaking at $4,163 in 2007-08, the base amount of funding the district receives from the state for each student fell each year until it reached $3,479 in 2011-12.
The funding increased nearly 3 percent, to $3,583, in one year for the current school year. So the 113-student increase means at least an additional $404,879 in state funding for the district.
Cox noted that the economy is going to continue to be an issue, especially in the property tax area.
Concerning the district's current review of early release days, Cox stressed that nothing has been finalized. The board is considering two different calendars, one with about 19 early release days, and the other with fewer, he said.
The issue will be brought back to the school board for its Dec. 11 meeting, he believes.
What about the superintendent's committee wanting the repeal of the statue banning starting dates for the school year earlier than 14 days before Labor Day?
The start of the school year should be under local control, and if the school board feels that an earlier start date is best for students and this school district, they should have the ability to approve that, Cox said.
"The reason that the board and I recommended a little earlier start date, so we could complete the first semester prior to the winter break," he said. "If we chose to do that again, we feel that is a local control issue."
If the law were repealed, the school board may prefer the current calendar and wouldn't make any changes, but they would like that to have that option, Cox said.
Also, at Tuesday's school board meeting, the board approved Andy Tuck to serve one year as board chairman and Ronnie Jackson to serve as the vice chair for one year.
The school board approved its meeting calendar, which for most months features two meetings at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.
Upcoming meeting dates include: Dec. 11, Jan. 15, Jan. 29, Feb. 12, Feb. 26, March 26, April 9 and April 23.
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