Watchdog committee reportx3a BPS spending sales tax properly

Watchdog committee report: BPS spending sales tax properly


Dec. 12, 2017


VIERA, Florida -- Brevard Public Schools is spending revenue from the half-cent sales surtax for facilities the way voters mandated, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) says.


The oversight group – also established by voters -- presented its annual report during the Dec. 12 Brevard County School Board meeting. The ICOC monitors how the district spends money from the .5-cent-per-dollar surtax. Passed in 2014, the surtax funds critical facility renewal, educational technology and school-security projects across the Space Coast.


The program is also audited twice a year by the district’s private internal auditors, RSM. Their most recent audit, in November, found no problems for the third year in a row.


As of Sept. 30, 2017, $109.2 million in sales surtax revenue had been received.


The voter-approved project list called for spending 83.5 percent of revenue on building renewal, 13.5 percent on educational technology, and 2.9 percent on school security over the six-year life of the tax. Here’s how BPS spent the money in 2016-2017 (report continues below):




“Adhering to promises made in 2014 is very important,” Superintendent Desmond Blackburn said Tuesday. 


Revenue continues to exceed projections, thanks to a strong economy, with more than $116 million received by the end of November 2017. This has allowed for several failing mechanical systems to be addressed earlier than planned.


In addition, the ICOC recommended -- and the School Board approved accelerating -- the district school security program using a temporary transfer of resources from facility renewal to security. Security improvements will be complete at all schools by April 2018. This is possible without impacting the facility renewal program because of the revenue received above the projections.


This chart depicts the difference between the estimated and actual revenue received by the district for recent fiscal years:




During summer 2017, the district invested more than $40 million in facility renewal funds at 17 schools. Projects at Stone Middle and Melbourne High were both more than $5 million, with extensive mechanical system renewal. The Stone Middle project also included roof renewal. For details about the surtax projects from fiscal year 2016-2017, visit FY 2016-17 Surtax Projects.


The district is already planning for summer 2018. Upcoming projects include facility renewal at:

  • Croton Elementary
  • Rockledge High
  • Ralph Williams Elementary
  • Cocoa High – includes non-surtax renovation of Building 18 and 12 classroom addition opening in 2019
  • Mila Elementary
  • Golfview Elementary
  • Coquina Elementary
  • South Lake Elementary – facility renewal advanced to support reopening in 2018



This chart shows the percentage of spending for the various facility renewal categories.



The ICOC annual report also highlights that the district uses the Owner Direct Purchase program to save sales tax by directly purchasing the materials and equipment. To date, such tax-free purchases total more than $11 million, which translates to a sales tax savings of more than $600,000. The savings can then be allocated back into projects.


Furthermore, BPS was recently approved to receive $7.9 million in technology-related discounts through the Federal E-rate program for 2016 and 2017. This approval, in combination with sales surtax educational technology funds, will allow BPS to provide wireless connectivity to every classroom by April 2018.




  • Click here for the full annual report and details about sales surtax projects.


  • School Board Member Tina Descovich shares her take on public perceptions of the sales tax on Brevard Watch.




  • Information about the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee’s meetings, including project and expenditure updates, can be found on BPS’ Sales Surtax webpage.  


Contact: Jennifer Wolfinger, Media & Publications Coordinator

321-633-1000 ext. 778