Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the district need a renewal of the one mill?
Alachua County Public Schools is facing a financial crisis even worse than the Great Recession of 2008, when the One Mill was first approved by voters. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district is looking at the potential loss of about $16 million this year, possibly more. Of course, the district is also spending millions of additional dollars on COVID-related expenses, such as PPE and staff training. The money provided by the federal government for such expenses didn’t come anywhere near to covering the costs.
Even before the pandemic, Florida was one of the lowest ranked states in the national for public school funding. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida is ranked 48th in the nation in per student state funding and 50th in funding compared to wealth.
The One Mill helped our schools weather the Great Recession, and will be needed more than ever to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis.
How has the one mill been spent so far?
Since the One Mill was first approved in 2008, it has generated nearly $150 million in revenue. That money has been used to fund art and music programs (including bands and choruses), school counselors, librarians, career-tech and academic magnet program teachers. It has guaranteed that we have nurses in every school, even when funding for those positions was threatened by federal funding cuts.
The One Mill is also the district’s primary source for classroom technology. It has funded thousands of computers, projectors and other learning tools, plus a small group of technicians to keep that technology up and running.
Just this year the One Mill has funded thousands of laptops, hotspots and other devices distributed to local students for online learning during the pandemic.
The One Mill helps fund the salaries of more than 300 people in our schools, mostly teachers.
How is this different from the Half-Cent for Schools that voters approved in 2018?
The Half-Cent for Schools can ONLY be spent on improving our schools’ facilities and constructing new facilities as they’re needed. It ensures our students have high-quality places in which to learn. The One Mill is about making sure we have the people to serve our students and the technology they need to do it.
How do we know the one mill money is being spent the way it's supposed to?
As required under the ballot language, an independent citizens' oversight committee has been meeting regularly to review one mill expenditures. That committee is made up of local business leaders and parents. The chairman makes a yearly report to the School Board and the public.
What will the One Mill cost me?
One Mill equals $1 for every $1000 of the taxable value of your property, which means if you don’t own taxable property in Alachua County, the One Mill doesn't cost you anything!
If you do own taxable property, the One Mill does not increase your school property taxes. Unless you’ve bought property with a higher value or have made significant improvements to your property, you’ll be paying the same amount in school taxes that you’ve been paying since 2009. In fact, chances are your school property tax bill will be lower in 2021 than it was back in 1997, even with the One Mill!
For the average homeowner in Alachua County, the One Mill costs about $7 a month.
What happened to the lottery money?
Voters approved the lottery based on the promise that its revenues would supplement existing education funding. In reality, revenues from the lottery have simply replaced other revenues that schools received from the state in pre-lottery years.
Most of the money raised through the lottery is used to fund the Bright Futures college scholarship program, not public schools. Another significant portion is used on jackpots and advertising the lottery.
Lottery dollars have always made up a very, very small portion of the district's discretionary budget, and many years local schools don’t receive anything.
Why is it that schools in Florida never seem to have enough money?
A number of national reports show that Florida's record for funding public schools is dismal. For example, the annual 'Quality Counts' report from Education Week grades states based on the quality of their K-12 education systems. That report has given Florida an 'F' for school spending for several straight years. According to the Census Bureau, Florida is ranked 50th among all states in per-student funding compared to wealth. This low level of funding has been the norm in Florida for years, and shows no signs of improving.
I don't have children in the school system. Why should I have to pay for schools?
A strong, thriving community can't exist without strong, thriving schools. You may not have children in Alachua County Public Schools, but your future pharmacist, accountant, plumber and many of the other citizens you depend on each day are currently attending our schools, and we all have a stake in ensuring that they are getting a good education. Those children will one day become the taxpayers who help support this community, and the better-prepared they are to be productive citizens, the better quality of life we will all enjoy.
From an economic standpoint, good schools are a critical recruiting tool for any community. When businesses and individuals are looking to relocate, one of the first questions they ask is "How are the schools?" High quality schools that project an image of a community that values education help draw those businesses and professionals to Alachua County. That means more jobs, new programs and technologies, greater economic development and a higher standard of living for our citizens. An investment in schools is an investment in the future for all of us.