New state law means further cuts for schools to tackle facility needs

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ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla -- A new state law passed this past legislative session means public schools will have less money to build and maintain their facilities this year.

The Alachua County Public School district is considering raising taxes as a solution.

Idylwild Elementary School was built in 1964, and the wear and tear shows. From the school's old roof to its air conditioning units.

"We on average have one of our permanent buildings once or twice a week that's without air conditioning," said Wanza Wakely, Principal for Idylwild Elementary School.

Alachua County Public School buildings on average are more than 40 years old.

"It affects the learning environment. It's difficult when you're uncomfortable to focus on instruction," Wakely said.

With the student population growing every year, schools are becoming crowded. Funding to build, renovate, repair, and maintain facilities has been slashed further.

The state passed a new law this past spring that requires school districts to give some of their property tax dollars to charter schools.

Jackie Johnson, a spokesperson for the district said they'll lose more than $650,000 a year out of its $7.5million annual discretionary facilities funding currently available.

"One of the options that's been tossed out is the possibility of having an additional sales tax to pay for facilties needs in our schools," Johnson said.

For Wakeley and her staff this school year, all they can do is continue working with what they got.

"If there are some emergencies that pop up, we will handle them, prioritize them and keep moving. That's what we've been doing for the past couple of years and we will continue doing that," she said.

There will be a school board workshop August 29th to discuss options for addressing those needs.