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Advocates ask Orange County voters to renew sales tax increase for school funding

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Local leaders are speaking out and encouraging Orange County residents to vote “yes” for the continuation of a sales tax for schools.

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The Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office said Wednesday that the reauthorization of the sales tax increase will be on the November ballot.

“It’s about the children,” Dick Batchelor, the Chair for Change4Kids, said. “What kind of school learning environment should these kids be in. We want them in safe, new and learning environments.”

Change4Kids has advocated for this tax since its original passing in 2002, which has raised more than $4 billion since 2003 to help upgrade, renovate, and build new schools.

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“This is infrastructure we would otherwise not have if it weren’t for the half penny sales tax,” Eddie Fernandez, the Co-Chair for Change4Kids, said.

Of that $4 billion more than 50% of the funding has been collected from tourists for the improvements or replacement of 136 schools as well as open 65 new schools.

Voters approved the initial sales tax in 2002 by 59%, and again in 2014 by 64%.

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Advocates said over the next decade the district will need nearly $4 billion more than what is currently available in the budget.

This will be needed to continue maintaining current schools and continue to meet the growing population.

“When you have good-looking schools, you have good-looking communities, and children tend to want to learn, and teachers feel good about teaching,” Vicki-Elaine Felder, an Orange County School Board Member for District 5, said.

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The current sales tax increase for Orange County residents is set to expire at the end of 2025.

Those in opposition to the tax said they do not want to approve another tax because they want to keep more money in their pockets.

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