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BPS delivers on promise with eighth straight perfect audit

News Release

Dec. 17, 2019

 

Media contact:  Matt Reed, PIO/assistant superintendent

321-633-1000, ext. 11796

reed.matthew@brevardschools.org

 

Annual Independent Citizens Oversight Committee report:

BPS delivers on promise with eighth straight perfect audit

 

VIERA, Florida – Brevard Public Schools continues to spend money from a one-half-cent sales surtax for facility renewal and repairs the way voters were promised when they passed the levy in 2014. That’s the main finding by the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC), an 11-member watchdog group from across Brevard County that was established by voters as part of the tax initiative. 

 

Program revenues have exceeded expectations to date by 35-percent. At the time it was passed, the sales surtax was estimated to provide $198 million in capital funding for a list of specific, critical repairs and replacement projects at schools across the Space Coast. Many of which were built some 40-50 years ago. As of September 30, 2019, surtax revenue had generated $202.8 million. If revenue trends continue, the program will receive an estimated $72 million more than the original $198 million target. A portion of the higher-than-expected revenue has been committed by the School Board to accelerating school-security projects meant to deter school shooters and other intruders.  The oversight committee has further recommended that the school board spend the remainder on critical-but-unfunded renewal projects at Space Coast schools, with a major portion going to failing energy plants and air-conditioning systems. 

 

District property-tax revenue alone is not sufficient to keep up with such repairs and replacements, the oversight committee’s report says. BPS continues to depend on revenue from the voter-approved, .5-cent-per-dollar sales surtax to keep aging schools safe and comfortable for students. 

 

“The ICOC is confident that the sales surtax investments are doing the work as directed by the voters and delivering value for their investment,” said Committee Chairman Gary Shiffrin. “Fortunately, because of either unused budget or new revenue, the staff can also go back to completed schools and address identified, but unfunded needs.”

 

To date, all 83 schools have benefitted from the surtax in some way, and by summer 2020 all major facility renewal projects will be completed. Small but significant portions of surtax revenue have been spent on security-related improvements and modernizing or replacing technology used in education.

The current plan is to complete all of the school facility renewal projects, as identified in the original 2014 plan, by next fall (2020). The ICOC is recommending that revenue in excess of the $198 million be allocated as follows:

 

  • 35% - Facility renewal
  • 15% -  Education technology
  • 50% - Security-related building upgrades

 

This year, the District embarked on an ambitious effort to conduct a comprehensive facilities needs assessment for all schools and most administrative sites, totaling about 10 million square feet.  This program will support budgeting, planning, and prioritizing for capital asset maintenance, replacement, and refurbishment. 

 

Although the project is still underway, the facilities assessments completed to date are being used by staff to improve the scope of the summer 2020 sales surtax projects and plan facility renewal work that was deferred from early sales surtax projects. The results are also being used to design and implement a pilot preventive maintenance program.

 

The ICOC has an important oversight role in the sales surtax program. Members are engaged in the process through bi-monthly meetings, including “closed session” briefings on security, field visits and audit questionnaires. The ICOC membership remains diverse and representative of the Brevard community.

 

Click HERE for the full ICOC report to the school board and a list of 2018-2019 surtax-funded major projects.