Q&A – South Florida Property taxes & school spending considerations

Q&A of the Day – South Florida Property taxes & school spending considerations

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

Facebook: Brian Mudd https://www.facebook.com/brian.mudd1

Today’s entry: Brian, I have been listening to you voice your opinion on how tax dollars should be refunded due to non in school teaching. I respectfully disagree with that opinion. My wife is a teacher in the Broward County system. She works upwards to 60-65 hours per week and gets paid for 37.5 hours. Saturday, Sunday, evenings, it doesn’t matter. Her current in class size is 5 out of 18. Just recently she lost another in school student. Regardless, she still works just as hard. We have personally spent several dollars in order to have snacks in the class for those who come without food or water. Countless amounts of personal ink toner to print work for the kids.

Advocating tax refunds will further dampen the limited financial resources the county provides and can and probably will bring layoffs. Brian, no one asked for this pandemic. However, we must weather the storm. Most teachers would welcome back the kids but are doing their best to supply the learning opportunity. Please be considerate of the situation. Asking for tax refunds will only dampen an already tricky to navigate situation. Thank you.

Bottom Line: The reason I shared your entire note is an effort to demonstrate consideration for your wife and others in her situation. I assure you that nothing I’ve suggested is meant to be an affront to teachers such as your wife who go above and beyond to provide the best possible education. To your point the pandemic has created many difficult circumstances. In my view we should be analytical in our considerations and pragmatic in our decision making. I believe numerous officials have failed us in that regard. My comments regarding refunds by school districts not offering classroom education, is at this point now mostly moot, as all school districts are now offering classroom education options, but the broader points are highly relevant, and I will continue to advocate for sound public policy. There are far too many South Florida families who are struggling to pay the bills, in part due to the inability to work due to having to stay home with their children who would have ordinarily been in the classroom in early August. We should be considerate of them too. The Florida Education Association, the largest teacher’s union in Florida, sued the Florida Department of Education to attempt to prevent classroom education in our state indefinitely. That deserves consideration. As always there are two sides to stories and one side to facts. These are facts:

  • Florida’s Virtual School costs taxpayers $450 less per student per month (40% cost savings)
  • According to CoreLogic 10% of Florida homeowners with a mortgage have missed at least one mortgage payment during the pandemic
  • The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro is fifth highest for missed payments nationally (and 2nd in the most recent month)

So, let’s break this down. If teachers/school districts didn’t/don’t won’t offer classroom education, we know there’s cost savings which can total 40% of all school spending to offer top-notch virtual education (Florida’s Virtual School boasts higher graduation rates and better outcomes than traditional classroom education). The top funding source for our public schools are property taxes. Now consider this...the number of households who use the public-school system:

  • 28.6%

So, all homeowners pay property taxes to provide education that just over a quarter of households use. One in ten homeowners in South Florida is at risk of losing their home due to affordability issues during pandemic. How many of them would benefit from a refund for property taxes paid for classroom education which wasn’t provided during August and September? In the private sector, aka real world, if a product or service is paid for but not provided a refund is in order. However, in government – with our tax dollars, the same standard isn’t applied. In my view that’s just plain wrong. And when we’re talking about tens of thousands of South Floridians potentially losing their homes, in-part due to their inability to pay the taxes which pay for the education which wasn’t offered...the nicest adjective I have to describe it is reprehensible. I hear from these listeners too. They should be considered as well.

At a minimum government services should be as accountable as any business we may transact with. I don’t think that’s asking too much. The news media retains Constitutional protections for the primary purpose of holding public officials to account. That by and large doesn’t happen. Especially as it pertains to public education. I understand this isn’t a desired message by many in education, but it also shouldn’t be taken as an affront either. There’s no shortage of news media which will illustrate whatever plight teachers and schools may face – perceived or real. What I offer is the rest of the story they don’t depict.

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