School spending buoyed by huge hike in property values here

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The School District of Indian River County will get less state and federal money in the coming school year than in 2022-23, but local property taxes, boosted by big gains in property values, will enable raises and improved benefits for the county’s public school teachers.

The total proposed school district budget for the next year sits at just under $320 million, a $12.4 million increase from the previous year.

The tax rate is set to decrease by 1.25 percent, from $5.98 per $1,000 of taxable value to $5.91 per $1,000 of taxable value, but in almost all cases, rising assessed property values will mean more school district taxes due this fall.

Taxable property values districtwide increased by $4.5 billion this year. Island homeowners pay roughly $3,000 in school district property taxes for every half-million dollars in assessed property value.

The budget was designed according to the ACHIEVE 2025 District Strategic Plan, which is packed with jargon like “alignment of academic improvement processes” and “increased focus on programmatic evaluation.” The district says that so far, its strategy has translated to “unprecedented levels of success and growth” on state tests.

Indian River County public schools have improved their state rankings in many subjects and categories – most notably jumping from 46th in the state to 12th in the state on biology end-of-course exam scores, and from 31st in the state to seventh in the state in third-grade English scores.

Of the school district’s $207 million general fund, 70 percent goes to teacher salaries, benefits and personnel costs, including $28.3 million for “talent development and support.” The balance pays for utilities, equipment, supplies and fuel for fleet vehicles.

With its buildings and sports venues aging, the school district’s capital outlay fund is increasing by $7 million this coming year.

Each middle school will get one additional dean, behavior technicians were added for elementary schools, and four ROTC teacher positions for the high schools rounded out new faculty positions in the budget.

The district spends 3 percent of its overall budget on the superintendent’s office, school board offices, communication, engagement and public information.

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