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Broward County Public Schools Seeks 1/2 Mill Increase In Aug. 28 Ballot

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie is facing calls to resign, and they are coming from family members of the victims killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this year.

For weeks, Runcie has come under fire for the way the district handled confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz.

At a campaign-style event Tuesday, Broward school leaders urged voters to approve a half millage point tax increase this month that will in part fund mandated security measures ordered by the state after the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

"We absolutely need to do better," said School Superintendent Robert Runcie.

Only a fraction of the $93 million a year will pay for people with weapons to guard campuses.

"There is 20% that will allow us to hire sufficient school resource officers," Runcie said.

Nearly all of the rest will go to raise salaries for teachers, counselors, cafeteria workers and bus drivers, to name a few.

Among those who will not be voting for the tax increase is Andrew Pollock, whose daughter, Meadow, was among those murdered at the school.

"I won't support anything that this superintendent gets behind, or this school board," Pollock told CBS4 News Tuesday.

Pollock says Runcie should resign. He believes the superintendent should be held accountable for red flags that were missed on his watch about the prior behavior of the admitted mass murderer, Nikolas Cruz.

Pollock says his view is reflected by the families of all 17 victims of the Parkland slaughter.

"Every single family member is on the same page. We want competent people in charge to look after what's best for our children and our teachers," Pollock said.

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed, posted on line "I've come to the determination that Superintendent Runcie must be relieved of his duties.  The failures that took place were real…the inability to provide the…leadership now to bring this school district forward cannot be ignored."

The families are particularly concerned that Runcie long denied that Cruz had been referred to a program for students who commit crimes on campus, when he in fact had been.  They are also upset that, unlike Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, that will use only police officers to staff schools, Runcie has signed off on using armed guards.

"He should just resign. That's what Broward County wants. We want him to resign, and we want to put someone in there that is competent," Pollock said.

A group of victims' relatives have scheduled a news conference for Thursday to call for Runcie to step down.

News of the families' call for Runcie to go broke after his news conference Tuesday.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Runcie had not responded to repeated requests for comment.

The proposed 1/2 mill increase would equate to about $10 per month for homeowners with an average home value of $240,000.

The millage rate is the amount per $1,000 of an assessed property value and is used to determine the amount of property tax.

On June 27, the School Board voted to allocate funds generated by the referendum in this manner:

  • 72 percent or more of all available funds would be used for compensation of teachers and school-related staff (including bus drivers, assistants and food service workers)
  • Up to 20 percent for security (including school resource officers and security staff)
  • Up to eight percent for essential programs in our schools (such as additional guidance counselors, social workers, and behavioral staff).

Early voting in Florida's Primary Election starts on Monday, August 13 in Miami-Dade and a Saturday, August 18 in Broward County.

Essential links:
Early voting locations in Broward
Early voting locations in Miami-Dade

Click here to see sample ballots for Florida's Primary Election.

Stay informed:

Click here to learn more about the "Secure the Next Generation," initiative and the 1/2 mill referendum.

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