SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. -- Seminole County school administrators say they’re seeing another huge jump in enrollment as they start the new school year.
- Seminole school officials see jump in enrollment
- Parent says district isn't getting enough money to accomodate
- She says the district should get more from development fee
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But the leader of the county’s parent-teacher association says the district isn’t getting enough money to accommodate swelling enrollment.
SCPS administrators say they won’t know their final enrollment for the school year for a few more weeks. But even after the first day of school on Friday, they say it’s obvious they’ll see another huge increase.
SCPS officials say they have at least 800 more students already than they did last school year.
Polly DeLucia’s daughter is enrolled at Idyllwilde Elementary, where she says even in kindergarten she’ll begin the foundation for her future.
“(We’re) preparing children for the workplace, preparing children for going out after high school graduation,” said DeLucia, President of Seminole County Council PTA.
DeLucia says Seminole County Public School’s reputation as a high-ranking school district is helping to bring lots of new development to the county.
But she says the school system isn’t necessarily getting all of the tax money it should get from that new development.
Earlier this year, the school district successfully pushed Seminole County leaders to nearly double the school impact fee developers have to pay when they build each new home. But county leaders decided to allow several neighborhoods already in the process of construction to be exempt from the school impact fee increase, and pay the old fee rate per unit. For example, each single-family home would be assessed a fee of $5,000 instead of the new fee of $9,000.
“We’re kicking further and further down the road where cash will come to the schools from the new impact fee,” DeLucia said.
Seminole County school administrators say the exemptions for developers could cost the district millions of dollars, money that could potentially be applied toward capital improvement projects like school building renovations or even building new schools to handle enrollment growth.
“While the vesting rights extension had a positive effect on many within the housing industry, it had a negligible effect on the overall Seminole County School Boards capital improvement budget,” said Chip Tatum, CEO of The Apartment Association of Greater Orlando.
DeLucia worries the loss in money to the school district could have a cumulative effect on the quality of her daughter’s education.
“One of the qualities that attracts people is the quality of the Seminole County Public School system and without additional funds, the school district cannot absorb the new children and families entering the district,” said DeLucia.
DeLucia says in the future she’s going to push to get school impact fees raised even higher. For now, she’s looking forward to her daughter’s very first days of kindergarten.
Seminole County Government records indicate the county has granted at least 10 developments in a current phase of construction an exemption from paying the higher school impact fee rates.