FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The nation’s sixth-largest school district, Broward County, wants to drastically improve its schools and took the first step toward achieving that goal Tuesday night.

By unanimous vote, Broward’s school district officials agreed to move forward with a referendum which will ask voters to approve an $800 million bond issue this fall, according to CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

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The board will ask the state’s permission to put the issue on the November ballot.

The state’s approval is expected to come quickly and easily, but then comes the hard part, convincing county voters to approve the referendum.

If the bond issue passes, Broward would receive a badly-needed infusion of cash for capital improvements and technology needs. Dozens of district schools are struggling with leaky roofs, for example, which creates mold risks.

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State budget cuts in recent years are a key reason why Broward needs more money for school repairs. Prior to 2008, Broward collected $2 for every $1,000 in taxable value from homeowners for a fund that specifically pays for capital improvement projects.

The Legislature reduced the amount Broward could collect to $1.50 for every $1,000 of taxable value, a move that gave tax relief to homeowners but left the school district’s five-year improvement plan in shambles. Even if the bond issue is approved, homeowners would still be paying a lower tax rate than those pre-2008 levels.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)


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