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Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Endorses Nov. 6 Education Referendum

September 27, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Grayson Kamm
Office of Communications
813-272-4060

Tampa, Fla. – (September 27, 2018) – The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has voted unanimously to endorse the Education Referendum on the November 6 ballot, supporting schools and our local economy. This is the first time in the chamber’s 133-year history that it has endorsed a referendum that exclusively funds schools.

"I believe our members see just how significant passing this referendum would be for our community—both right away and well into the future,” Tampa Chamber Chair Steve Bernstein said. “This investment would mean an expansion of all the things that power our business community: preparing a talented workforce, attracting high quality jobs, increasing property values, boosting our economy through significant local spending on repairs and construction work, and generally improving the quality of life in Hillsborough County.”

“I want to thank the members of the chamber for all their support as our employees work to prepare students for life,” said Jeff Eakins, Superintendent of Hillsborough County Public Schools. “They heard the message: this funding will help get our children ready for the challenges of the future, and it will only be spent on specific projects at every school while being carefully monitored by an independent Citizen Oversight Committee.”

The revenue from the 10-year half-penny sales tax would be invested in 203 air conditioning replacements or overhauls, 63 aging roof replacements, $139 million in specific needed repairs, $25 million in classroom technology to prepare students for future careers, $23 million in safety and security upgrades, and four new schools to relieve overcrowding. Every school will receive an investment of at least $500,000. The full school-by-school list is available at hillsboroughschools.org/referendum.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has worked throughout its history to propel education forward. The chamber was instrumental in the founding of the University of Tampa in the 1930’s and the University of South Florida in the 1950’s. Working to “enhance our community by building business success” is a key part of the chamber’s mission, and its members have formed close partnerships with educational institutions to help students prosper as they leave school and enter the workforce.

The Education Referendum will be the last item on the November 6 ballot for most Hillsborough County voters. It would cost the typical family in the county $63 per year and would not be charged on essentials like groceries and medicine.

A seven-member Citizen Oversight Committee will review all spending. Committee Chair Betty Castor, former state education commissioner and USF president, and Vice Chair Sheriff Chad Chronister will work together to select the remaining four private citizens who will serve on the committee in the coming days. A seventh member will be selected by the school district. Nominations from the public will be accepted through 5 p.m. this Friday, September 28, online at hillsboroughschools.org/referendum or in person at school district headquarters at 901 E. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.

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