Supporters push for extension of half-cent sales tax for Orange County schools



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County voters will head to the polls later this month to decide whether to keep paying a half-penny sales tax for schools.
School officials are trying to convince voters to approve it again. District leaders told Channel 9's Deneige Broom that they desperately need the tax money.
On Wednesday, Orange County School Board member Kat Gordon helped fellow board members and Change 4 Kids officially kick of their campaign to support continuing the half cent sales tax.
"You don't know the feeling of moving into a new school and getting the best of the technology," Gordon told those who had gathered for the event.
Washington Shores Elementary is one of those new schools Gordon spoke of.  It was one of 136 schools that needed renovations or a complete rebuild.
In 2002, voters decided to add a half cent to the sales tax in part to help pay for that list. But time has run out on that tax and if voters don't say yes to it again on Aug. 26, it will go away.
Supporters of the tax said 59 schools still need work that won't be completed without the money.
"It's not only the building, it's the technology to help our kids be ready for the 21st century, security, facilities -- all of that is included in the costs," said Superintendent of Orange County Schools Barbara Jenkins.
Supporters said the tax has generated more than $1.6 million since 2002. They estimate it'll raise more than $2 billion by the end of next year.
Marcus Robinson, who opposes the tax, said he doesn't mind paying the money, but he doesn't trust where it's going.
"We want to keep them to the promises," said Robinson.