School district leaders react to referendum failing

Schools

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — It’s back to the drawing board for Bay District Schools.

For weeks, the district has been fighting the uphill battle of pushing the one-mill tax referendum, which failed to pass in last night’s election.

“I have grave concerns about what we do next and how we’re going to make it work,” said Vice President of the Association of Bay County Educators, Alexis Underwood.

Not only were teachers union representatives pushing for the referendum to pass, but so were school board members. Underwood said the results were not what she had hoped for.

“I’m confident in the process even though right now I don’t know how we’re going to make it work,” Underwood said.

Underwood and other school leaders believe much of the information surrounding the referendum was skewed on social media.

“We’ve been here before, we’ve done more with less,” Underwood said. “What’s important is we had our shot, and apparently we failed to convince voters that our side was speaking the truth and that this money was needed.”

Superintendent Bill Husfelt also expressed his disappointment with the vote.

Husfelt released a statement, saying:

“Although I definitely wanted to see voters approve the referendum, I am not surprised by the results. We asked the voters to consider it and they considered it. I am disappointed for our employees today but we will continue to move forward and I know the school board members will do all they can to find funding for raises. If I regret anything, I regret the amount of misinformation and the negativity that has been shared by the well-funded campaign opposing the referendum.”

Now that the union has an understanding of what funding they will have to work with, preliminary negotiations with the district can begin.

“There are other things the union works for that are not directly dollar related. Like extra planning time for teachers that work with ESE students. There are lots of other ways that the district and the union can partner together to make all of our lives better,” Underwood said.

They expect those negotiations with the district to start soon.

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