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Updated: 03/24/2014 05:40:08PM

School referendum vote is Tuesday

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SARASOTA COUNTY — Tuesday is election day for the Sarasota County School District’s 1-mill referendum renewal.

The special election is also being held for the election of trustees for the Holiday Park Recreation District in North Port. Elections are being held in Longboat Key and in Venice, where residents will vote on nine charter amendments, as well. Referendum dollars come from a 1-mill tax county homeowners already pay. There will be no tax increase should voters renew it, school officials say. One mill equates to $1 in taxes for each $1,000 of a property’s taxable value — between 30 and 39 cents a day, depending on a home’s value — and approval by voters will generate “operating expenses necessary to maintaining the Sarasota County school system.” Voters first approved the tax in 2002, and it was extended in 2006 and 2010. Should voters approve it again, it will remain in effect through June 2018. The 1-mill school tax generates approximately $40 million each year for the district, school officials say, and is critical to continuing a half-hour-longer school day, keeping classes such as chorus and orchestra, and maintaining high standards. It also pays for nearly 500 teacher and staff positions, largely in the areas of art, music, theater, physical education, dance and elementary science, along with guidance counselors, technical and front-office support and school security aides. Early voting numbers — early voting ran March 10 through Saturday — are in, and Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent said Monday that 4,756 county residents took advantage of early voting. Five days in, Dent said, there had been 2,005 early voters and 18,481 absentee ballots turned in.

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