School board to address facilities crisis in Alachua County

Alachua County School District

The Alachua County School district says the average school is over 40 years old and in dire need of repair and renovation.

"You've got furniture that isn't where it needs to be, you have out of date science labs and roofs that are constantly leaking," Alachua County Schools spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said.

Over the next few months parents will be able to participate in community forums to discuss the needs and problems they've seen in children's' schools. While school officials are looking to get feedback from parents they say part of the solution is already on the ballot for November.

" So that's why the school board has placed a half cent sales tax proposal on the ballot," Johnson said. "We will be asking voters to look at the needs and decide whether or not they're willing to invest in bringing up all of our schools to a higher facilities standard."

Over the last ten years the district says their schools have lost more than $168 million in funding. As result the school board says they don't have the money in the budget to make the major repairs and renovations that many schools need.

The half cent sales tax proposal that will be on the ballot in November will give voters a chance to provide a funding source to fix that problem.

" What we're looking at is a half cent sales tax which would bring in somewhere between 20 to 22 million dollars a year and that would allow us to revitalize all of our schools," Johnson said.

The forum will be held on Saturday, June 16 from 9 a.m. to noon at Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, located at 120 SE Williston Road in Gainesville. It will focus on all Alachua County Public Schools located east of Main Street, including Shell Elementary and Hawthorne Middle/High School. Future forums will address schools in other areas of the county.

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