Orange County School Board approves putting half-cent sales tax on ballot; what comes next

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County voters could soon decide to extend the half-cent sales tax.


The school district said the money would be crucial for renovation and construction, including schools like Howard Middle School.

The Orange County School Board voted for a referendum to extend the half-cent sales tax on the November ballot, potentially bringing in millions to renovate or replace schools over the next 10 years.

Previously, the half-cent sales tax generated over $4 billion for school construction and renovations.

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Over the last 20 years, OCPS has rebuilt or renovated 136 schools and built 64 with the help of county taxpayers.

Principal John McHale said Howard Middle School staff has patched up something in the nearly 100-year-old school for years—whether that’s the chairs, the leaky ceilings, the century-old plumping, or the dated air conditioning system.

But now those problems are gradually being fixed in a total renovation that will transform the building into a true school for the arts.

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The whole project will cost up to $50 million. It’s all thanks to Orange County taxpayers and the half-cent sales tax.

McHale said the school would have been forced to shut down without this tax money. However, the tax that saved the school is set to expire next year.

If voters approve, the sales tax will help fund the district’s capital construction.

The money will also improve student security and update technology in schools.

The next step is to send the referendum to the Board of County Commissioners for approval to place on the November ballot.

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