A penny may not seem like it could do too much good, but the extra penny Pasco County residents have been paying since 2004 has raised a total of $139 million for the Pasco School District since the tax began.

However, not all of the proceeds from the tax go to the school district— the school board and Pasco County commission each receive 45 percent of the proceeds, with the remaining 10 percent being divided among Pasco’s six municipalities. With the tax set to expire in 2014, the county is asking the public for a second ten-year “round” of it, to be voted on by Florida residents in November’s general election.

The money has gone towards updating and renovating area schools in need. Among the Wesley Chapel schools needing the tax to pass because they have projects that aren’t funded without the second ten years include Thomas E. Weightman Middle School, which is waiting to receive campus safety improvements. The original Penny fund currently only has $30 million left.

Renovations to Quail Hollow Elementary (QHE) also are in the next go-round, and principal Michelle Berger says she supports continuing the one-cent tax. “I think there are a lot of projects in the district that still need extra funding,” Berger says.

If it passes, the second ten years of the tax is expected to raise $502.4 million, of which the District would get $226 million. The funds can’t be used on salaries or other everyday expenses; instead, the money has to be dedicated to building new schools or renovating/repairing old ones. “I believe (local voters) would support the penny if they could see the good it has done in the district,” says Dr. John Long Middle School principal Christine Wolff.

Originally, the tax was intended to help with the growth of Pasco County, which needed more new schools to reduce the crowding at many older ones. With the pause in residential growth in the past few years, there are no new schools on the project list, instead focusing on the improvement of Pasco schools already in existence.

For more information visit PascoCountyFl.net.

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