PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The Pasco County school district said they have 364 open instructional positions, and that’s about double the openings from the same time last year.
“That’s insane. That’s really high,” said school district spokesperson Steve Hegarty.
Hegarty said one reason it’s so tough to fill those positions is that Pasco Schools' salaries are not competitive with surrounding counties.
Voters in Pinellas and Hernando County already approved a referendum to raise salaries.
Hillsborough schools' pay is higher than Pasco and they are pushing for a referendum too.
“We are losing a lot of people. We are having trouble recruiting people. And that solution is the same solution that other districts have come up with over the last several years,” said Hegarty.
Raising local millage rates means more property tax revenue and that money is set to go to schools for non-administrative salaries.
A group called Lift Up Pasco said they are trying to educate the public about why that’s so important.
“I know that people are suffering because of inflation and higher cost for so many things. Teachers are too. So giving a little bit more to help schools and teachers and non-administrators is going to go a long way to make sure we keep the best teachers in Pasco County,” said Linda Cobbe.
In Hillsborough County, there are several community meetings planned where voters can talk to superintendent Addison Davis.
A 1-mill referendum will be on the ballot next month.
One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of property value.
The district wants to use the money to recruit and retain experienced teachers and support staff.
“We know that throughout the state of Florida 21 school districts currently have an increased millage. And the bulk of those school districts are using that to be able to recruit the best and the brightest every single day,” said Hillsborough County superintendent Addison Davis.
If it’s passed, the millage hike would cost homeowners about $125 a year for those with a home value of $150,000.
If your home value is $300,000, you’d pay about $275 more a year.
The Pasco School district said if the referendum passes, it will not take the place of future employee salary increases.
The Hillsborough County School District has several meetings planned to inform people about the proposed millage hike. The next meeting is on Wednesday, July 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Armwood High School.
Additional meetings are scheduled on the following dates:
- Wednesday, July 20 at Sumner High School
- Monday, July 25 at Alonso High School
- Wednesday, July 27 at Riverview High School
- Tuesday, August 2 at Gaither High School
The meetings will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Two virtual meetings will also be held on Monday, August 1 at noon and 5:30 p.m.
To learn more about the proposed millage hike visit Hillsborough County Public Schools here.