Funding Gap Reality Hits Hillsborough County Public Schools
During a School Board workshop today at the Hillsborough County Public Schools, district leaders discussed the state of Florida’s funding plan for public education this year and explained why it is not going to sustain the school district’s current budgetary needs. Hillsborough County Public Schools, like other school districts around the state, anticipate a budget deficit.
Despite many successes over the past few years, including rising graduation rates, top notch magnet and STEM programs, growing career and technical institutes, improved reading scores, enhanced school culture and other positive outcomes, changes will be necessary over the next 12 months to balance the budget and to remain sustainable.
Superintendent Eakins believes the school district will meet this challenge and continue to deliver quality public education that puts students first despite a challenging financial forecast.
“We will continue to advocate for our students and provide them the education they need to achieve their dreams for the future,” said Eakins.
However, state policy changes and other factors will impact how the School District operates over the coming year. One tactic that has already taken effect is a temporary hiring freeze to review essential versus non-essential allocations, placing a priority on classroom instruction.
- State lawmakers approved a Base Student Allocation, as part of the state budget passed in May, which is $27 less than last year and is lower than 2007-2008 student allocation levels (this is still under review during special session). The Base Student Allocation is a source of flexible funding school districts receive. It is used to pay for new or continuing educational programs and salaries for teachers and staff.
- Possible changes to Title I funding is expected to impact how our school district helps struggling schools. Title I funds help to bridge the gap between low-income students and other students. The U.S. Department of Education provides supplemental funding to local school districts to meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students.
- Student enrollment shifts impact the district’s funding.
- A new mandate is proposed to take effect requiring school districts to share capital outlay dollars raised through local millage with charter schools. Since there is no corresponding increase to millage this means we will receive fewer funds for maintaining and renovating public schools.
- The school district is required to contribute $3.9 million more to the Florida Retirement System.
How will Hillsborough County Public Schools maintain a strong financial footing and continue its reputation for quality education during this challenging time?
Below is a list of options and possible strategies the School Board will consider in order to balance the budget and continue to cultivate learning conditions where students thrive.
- Spending controls and cuts at district office to tighten budgets, including possible reductions in service contracts, employee benefits, substitute payments, materials, supplies and capital expenditures.
- Looking at open positions and deciding if the vacancies needs to be filled.
- Streamlining efficiencies at the district level and school sites while protecting the programs in low performing schools that are proven to reduce the achievement gap and protecting programs that improve student achievement overall.
- Empowering principals to develop solutions for more efficient and effective use of personnel and resources in light of declines in funding.
Hillsborough County Public Schools is the 8th largest school district in the nation with more than 211,000 students and 26,000 employees. There are 233 traditional public schools in Hillsborough County and 149 of them are Title I schools (about 65%). Also, 63.76% of students are on free or reduced meals.
Here is the PowerPoint presentation from today’s School Board Budget Workshop.
To watch a replay of the budget workshop, visit http://schoolboard.hcpswebcasts.com.
Another budget workshop is scheduled for June 20th. All are invited to watch on the district website www.sdhc.k12.fl.us and it will also be live on the Tampa Bay Arts and Education network (TBAE), on Spectrum Cable channel 635 or Frontier Cable channel 32.
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