On Tuesday, Superintendent Jackie Pons spoke to about 60 members and guests of the the Northeast Business Association. During his thirty minute talk he discussed the financial status of the Leon County School District, a new Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) project that will save millions in transportation costs, and in response to a question from the audience, said that “this was not the time for the City of Tallahassee to raise electric rates”.
Describing himself as one of the largest “business owners” in Leon County, he sympathized with businesses during these tough economic times. He talked about how over the last six years education revenue had been cut by $65 million and explained how Leon County was able to maintain an A rating during this period. He gave credit to the “best teachers in the state” and to a school board that “stayed focused on priorities and did not complain about the cuts.” He was also thankful to the business partners that donate time and services to public schools.
Superintendent Pons was clearly excited about the CNG program that will not only help the Leon County School Board save money, but also help the citizens of Leon County. The project will provide CNG for school buses, but there will also be two locations where citizens that own CNG vehicles will be able to refuel their cars. “We have had people calling us from all over the county about the project. The project will save money and help with the environment” said Superintendent Pons.
Responding to a question from the audience about the proposed $30 million increase in City of Tallahassee electric base rates, Pons said “this not the time to raise electric rates.” He talked about the impact of increased rates on the school budget and the effect on local businesses. He also discussed a school board analysis that concluded that high electric rates can put Leon County Schools at a competitive disadvantage with other school districts.