School board reduces property tax rate but still 8% above rolled-back rate

The Alachua County School Board met on September 11 to approve its FY24 budget


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Alachua County School Board approved its final millage rate and budget on Monday for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Chief of Finance Keith Birkett gave a brief presentation on the budgetary details, and the board unanimously approved two millage resolutions.

Millage rates are tax rates levied on real estate or other property and make up about 25% of the school district’s annual revenue. About half of the millage rate for the school district is set by the legislature, and the rest is approved locally by the school board. This year’s approved millage rate is 6.432, which is 1.02% lower than last year’s rate of 6.498 but nearly 8% higher than the rolled-back rate.

The “rolled-back rate” is the rate that would raise the same amount of revenue as the prior year if applied to the current year’s tax roll. 

The final approved budget for the district is $599,653,242.99, which is $4.5 million less than the approved tentative budget that the board passed on August 1. The millage rate impact to taxpayers amounts to a $27.04 increase in property taxes on a house valued at $206,000 with a homestead exemption.

The chart below gives a breakdown of all components of the budget:

Slide from Birkett’s presentation at September 12 meeting

Birkett highlighted the various reasons why the final budget numbers were less than the previous tentative budget: The $9 million adjustment in Capital Projects resulted from unpaid invoices in July that weren’t processed until after August 1; Birkett said that money was encumbered in the budget from last year and did not affect the available balance in the capital outlay.

Birkett said the district is increasing its reserve by $3.6 million to plan for health insurance claims. Chair Tina Certain asked for clarification on whether that increase was due to rising health insurance costs, and Birkett confirmed, saying “hopefully that [number] will be less, but yes, that’s what we are anticipating.”

Birkett said this is the first year the district has included these internal accounts in its budget because of changes in accounting standards.

Before making her final vote, Certain took a moment to express her frustration over the lack of information on federal funds and how they would be spent. 

“I think the detail and where we’re headed with our budget needs to be a little clearer, especially around the federal funds, or the ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) and the ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act). We didn’t get any backup on that in the tentative budget documents.”

Certain said she’s received emails regarding specific services not being available to students when she knows they should be and added, “That is a concern for me – but we have to adopt this because if we don’t, it disrupts a whole lot of things. And so, I kind of begrudgingly, as I have in the past, will vote for this.”

No members of the public spoke on the resolutions. A detailed breakdown of the fiscal year 2023-24 district budget can be found here.

  • Using rough numbers ($600,000,000 budget and 30,000 students) SBAC costs around $20,000 per student per year.

    When did public schools start costing more than private ones? Bureaucracies are a menace to society.

    • Jerry Pournelle’s iron law of bureaucracy: In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals that the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.[

    • Public schools must by law provide services for all students, including those challenged physically and mentally. Private schools can pick and choose their students.

      • Are you really blaming the comparatively small number of disabled students for the massively inflated budget? Have you looked in to the sheer number of unnecessary administrators or the insane demands of the public sector unions and the ridiculous health care costs? Do you have any data to back up your assumption that private schools do not accommodate disabled students. You are a clown with a political agenda and no one takes you seriously.

        • Slice, I’ll take your weak insults for the weakness of argument they represent.

          On data, you go 1st since you bring it up.

          Of course there are all kinds of challenging students besides the physically disabled – who can be expensive to provide for by the way – and include learning disabled and behavioral problems who the public, unlike privates, schools may not turn away. Teachers in Florida are already among the lowest paid, but perhaps in your alternate reality where it is still 1951, health care is cheap (the US has the most expensive health costs in the world and that is not the fault of the Alachua County School Board), lawyers have not buttoned up every opportunity for suing anyone who steps on a sidewalk crack, the school board does not keep a fleet of shiny new buses, and kids drop out or are kicked out for being screw ups, you can beat those teachers down to even lower pay. Maybe those “unnecessary administrators” are partly there to deal with the lawyers, parents, and citizens – like you – who want to fight everything and view the schools as the enemy. You have a lot of allies and they are of all political stripes.

          • I know I have a lot of allies of all political stripes and we are all dead set on taking you extremist out! You far left (and far right) ideologues are no longer welcome in society and will be fully routed out.

            I’m not wasting my time addressing the rest of your retarded comment

          • As if those like you with no tolerance for differing opinions in a democracy who talk bout “taking people out” are not the extremists.

            I will take your surrender on the points as acquiescence to my position, and glad we agree. If we didn’t, I’m sure someone as curious and full of ideas as you – cough, cough! – would welcome an exchange of ideas here as an intellectual delight, instead of just a place to blow out hot air to like minded disgruntled and perpetually dissatisfied windbags.

          • Healthcare costs may be some of the highest in the world but that doesn’t keep people from other countries from seeking it here. Why are the costs so incredibly high? It’s not all because of pharmaceuticals. High costs of obtaining an education perhaps? If most schools are liberal and they want equitable distribution of resources why don’t they help students by not having high tuition costs? Aren’t they supposed to be in it for the little guy? Why do states charge more for non-resident tuition? Costs the same to teach a resident as a non-resident. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m saying they’re full of hypocrisy amongst other things.
            By the way, wish your reason for the unnecessary administrators were correct. Unfortunately, that’s not why they’re there.

          • Guest, it is true that the wealthiest often come here for certain specialties – we’re really good at cancer treatments – but it’s also true that reverse medical tourism from here to elsewhere – Central America especially – also occurs in significant numbers. Further, while we have certain specialties we are very good at, we are in general not remarkable and other countries, especially in Europe, rank similarly overall. Long story short, we are not getting what we are paying for.

            Remember, the US is a higher education destination for the world, including even the Chinese, and that would seem to indicate the relative low costs, This is an advantage – graduates tend to stay here in large numbers – that we are slowly losing as China is steadily increasing it’s universities.

            Florida, at about $6-7k tuition a year is as big a deal as you could wish for, and since the state provides it’s part of the budget at a loss and for the benefit of the state and it’s citizens, of course out-of-state tuitions are higher. We can’t subsidize those from other states.

          • It’s not just the wealthy coming here for procedures and those traveling to Mexico are doing it more for the costs than the benefit.
            Never said the US wasn’t a high education destination either, just those costs aren’t associated with pharmaceuticals as much as they are for attending med school and the often, loans that are associated with it. I also believe it’s not the low costs associated with living in the US that people choose to stay. More likely the freedoms and potential for wealth this country offers over many others. (At least until the progressive liberals turn it into something the forefathers probably never intended but many communist countries are hoping for.)
            Still, the students who protest and demand loan forgiveness aren’t willing to acknowledge the expense of getting an education is the reason for many needing to take out loans and they also refuse to point the finger at the causes.

      • They do provide the same services as required by law. It’s unfortunate that some schools in the district had their funds reduced and redistributed under the prior administration’s orders.
        What’s really unfortunate is that although the beneficiaries saw an increase in their funding, they didn’t experience an increase in their success. It had nothing to with those who were physically or emotionally challenged.

  • That is not the whole budget. Is there a link to the whole budget somewhere? ESSER…what is that for? Is it a covid thing?

  • I think it’s a shame some board members are still hoping/wanting/wishing for ESSER and ARPA funds to meet budgetary needs.
    Did they really believe that money tree would keep dropping money forever or are they like some college students who just believe the government owes them?

  • Is that “Cousin It” in the photo 2nd from the right? What the F? It’s got a black face diaper on and eyeglasses…

    • :):):):) What you’re looking at there Shaquonda is the long term consequences of covid virtue signaling. Rockwell was front and center screaming about masks and school closures and how we had to save the kids (you know, the populaiton with 0.0% death rate from covid), and now she doesn’t want to look like she was wrong. So, as long as Covid exists in the world, she’ll will have to wear that mask! Poetic justice is beautiful, isn’t it?

        • Mayo Clinic, July 2023

          “Can face masks help slow the spread of the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)?

          Yes. When used with measures such as getting vaccinated, hand-washing and physical distancing, wearing a face mask slows how quickly the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads.

          The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends wearing masks if you choose to, and in specific places and situations.

          In areas that have many people with COVID-19 in the hospital, the CDC recommends wearing a face mask indoors in public.

          The CDC says that you should wear the most protective mask that you’ll wear regularly, fits well and is comfortable.

          Respirators such as nonsurgical N95s give the most protection. KN95s and medical masks provide the next highest level of protection. Cloth masks provide less protection. The CDC says that surgical N95 masks should be reserved for health care professionals…..”


          Weekly death rate in US by vaccine status:


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