The proposed tax would fund Okaloosa school improvements for 10 years.

NICEVILLE — The Okaloosa County School Board on Monday unanimously approved a half-cent sales tax referendum in May.

It's now up to voters in the mail-in ballot referendum to decide the fate of the school district's tax proposal.

If approved by a simple majority of voters, the district's 10-year tax could generate $15 million during its first year. It's predicted to generate $15 million to $18 million each year thereafter. 

School district spokesman Henry Kelley said the revenue would be spent to replace portable classrooms with permanent ones, fix roofs and air conditioners, and buy buses.

One example, he said, would be to purchase more buses for Florosa Elementary School to minimize conflicts with the bus schedule and Hurlburt Field's rush hours.

"We believe that is an example of how we intend to use the money that not only benefits the students, obviously, but in this case it has a tremendous benefit for everyone who leaves Hurlburt heading west," Kelley said.

Michelle Anchors, who will be part of a political action committee called Team Okaloosa, said the committee will be dedicated to raising the necessary money to fund the ballot process. 

"We are asking for those dollars from individuals, including you," Anchors said. "We are asking for those dollars from businesses, large and small. We are asking all of the citizens of Okaloosa County to make a contribution to put this issue on the ballot and to help promote the massage of this proposal."

Anchors said with the approval of the half-cent sales tax, the school district will be able to buy bricks and mortar, buses and smart boards (digital chalkboards) for classrooms. She said the proposed tax would fund capital expenditures essential for the happiness and success of students and their families.

"We often hear that money can't buy everything, especially happiness," Anchors said. "But with a half-cent sales tax, I think we can even buy happiness."

Kelley said every school in the county, including charter schools, will receive money if the sales tax is approved.

"We as a district are very excited," Kelley said. "It (the tax) is necessary. It's needed."