The Pasco County School Board held its final public hearing of its proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2021-22.

The budget is set for $1,470,908,377, a decrease of $48,762,534 from last year’s budget. Included is a general operating budget of $734.6 million and a capital budget of $339.2 million. The millage rat for 2021-22 is 5.810, a decrease of 0.112 mills. So, under this proposed rate, a homeowner of a $175,000 home, after the deduction of the $25,000 homestead exemption, would pay $16.80 less per year than last year.

Breaking the budget down, the general operating funds increased from $704.4 million to $734.6 million. The school district received additional funds totaling $10.5 million in state funding to accommodate its projected growth of 2,277 students and recurring expenses.

Out of the $10.5 million, $8.7 million is set aside for school choice – charter schools and scholarships, $2.5 million for retirement increase, $2.1 million for health insurance increases, and approximately $1 million for property insurance utilities and Senior Resource Officer contract increases.

The budget includes a reduction of 24.93 school and district allocations for the reduction of $854,744. The operating budget covers allocations and operating costs for the opening of Starkey Ranch K-8 and the mid-year opening of Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation.

It also includes an allocation of $1,573,117 to continue to increase minimum base salary for full-time classroom teachers.

The largest capital project appropriations are for the construction of Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation, construction of the 6-12 academy in Land O’Lakes area, and a major renovation for Hudson High School and Gulf High School. Other projects include cafeteria renovations, replacement of HVAC systems and infrastructure upgrades at various schools.

The district has set aside funds to provide a COVID retention supplement of $1,000 for employees that meet certain criteria.