School Board Approves Referendum for November 6, 2018 Ballot
For Immediate Release
Contact: Tanya Arja
Office of Communications
Tampa, Fla. – (August 24, 2018) – Today, Friday, August 24, the Hillsborough County School Board voted to ask county residents to support school-based needs such as air conditioning, new school construction and renovation of our existing schools through a referendum on a countywide ballot on November 6, 2018. If that referendum does not pass, they will seek another referendum in a countywide vote on March 5, 2019.
The district has more than 230 schools – the average age being nearly 50 years old – and many schools are in need of a major investment. In just the next five years, 28 schools need new roofs and 63 schools need major A/C repairs or complete replacements, in addition to painting, exterior lighting enhancements and new playground equipment.
Revenue would also be used to improve security on campuses, renovate facilities, upgrade classroom technology, and equip workshops and classrooms for career and technical workforce training. Florida ranks 41st in the nation in education funding for K-12 schools. This past year, the state increased base funding by just 47 cents per student. This is the main source of flexible funding for school districts, which is used to pay teachers and staff, create new programs and support classroom needs.
Despite the inadequate state funding, Hillsborough Schools has seen incredible growth academically over the past three years – graduation rates reached a record high last year and the district was ranked as a top-rated large school district in America. Hillsborough Schools is also a national leader in security on campuses. But our students face a future in aging, crowded schools, and our community faces a $3 billion challenge due to the state’s budget for education funding.
Superintendent Eakins and School Board members have worked diligently over the past three years to reduce costs, find new efficiencies and get the district’s financial house in order. In that timeframe, the district reduced 1,900 positions. Hillsborough Schools has been responsibly paying $1 billion in mortgages for more than 60 schools built during the growth boom in the 1990s and early 2000s. The district also faces $1 billion in deferred maintenance, as 40 schools need immediate A/C replacement plus other investments. Another $1 billion is needed to handle the growth expected over the next 15 years. A minimum of 32 new schools are needed for the students expected to come to Hillsborough County. Building just one high school, which also serves as a hurricane shelter, costs more than $65 million.
For more information, visit our Hillsborough’s school needs website at hillsboroughschools.org/needs