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Full Citizen Oversight Committee Announced for Education Referendum

October 03, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tanya Arja
Office of Communications

Diverse group includes representatives from a range of geographic, professional and ethnic backgrounds

Tampa, Fla. – (October 3, 2018) – Committee Chair Betty Castor and Vice Chair Sheriff Chad Chronister are pleased to announce their selections for the Citizen Oversight Committee, a group that will oversee the spending on school improvement projects that would be funded by the November 6 Education Referendum.

The committee, an impressive group with a longstanding commitment to the children and families of Hillsborough County, will review the spending, progress and completion of all spending related to the $131 million a year generated by the half-penny sales tax over the next decade to address essential district needs including air conditioning, aging roofs, classroom technology and safety and security improvements.

The six independent citizens are not affiliated with the district and cannot work on projects funded by the referendum. The district will appoint one employee to the committee.

Citizen Oversight Committee Members:

Bonnie Carr, CPA
Certified Public Accountant and Former VP and Chief Financial Officer of Hillsborough Community College
Ms. Bonnie Carr developed and managed budgets in excess of $400 million as Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer for Hillsborough Community College. She has served as a financial manager on major projects in Tampa Bay and Chicago, including Chicago’s $1 billion Navy Pier expansion. In the community, she has been a financial advisor to the City of Plant City Planning Board, Chicago Cities in Schools organization, and the Women’s Self Employment Project. Ms. Carr lives in East Hillsborough County.

Earl Lennard, PhD
Former Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Earl Lennard served for nine years as Superintendent of Schools for Hillsborough County and retired after 41 years with the school district. He went on to serve as Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County from 2009 to 2013. He has also served as interim Executive Director of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, President of the Hillsborough County Fair, and adjunct professor at USF. A member of many charitable, professional, and chamber of commerce boards, Dr. Lennard has lived in Riverview for more than 50 years.

Ed Narain, MBA, JD
Former State Representative and Active Civic Leader
Mr. Edwin “Ed” Narain is a former state legislator, active community leader, and advocate for children’s causes. Currently a Director of External Affairs with AT&T, he has served as a leader with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Head Start Policy Council, and Hillsborough County Community Action Board. During his time in the Florida House, Mr. Narain was recognized with awards from the Florida League of Cities, Florida Boys and Girls Clubs, and Florida Chamber of Commerce. A former USF Student Body President, he lives in West Tampa.

Jose Valiente, CPA
Certified Public Accountant and Past Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chair
A certified public accountant and consultant for more than 40 years, Mr. Jose Valiente has held numerous leadership roles in the business and civic communities. He has served terms as Chair or President of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, University of South Florida Latin Community Advisory Committee, Tampa Bay-Cuba Trade Commission of the World Trade Center of Tampa Bay, and Boy Scouts of America Gulf Ridge Council. Named Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.’s 2005 “Hispanic Man of the Year,” Mr. Valiente lives in Temple Terrace and has lived in Tampa Bay for more than 50 years.

Committee Chair
Betty Castor, MEd
Former University of South Florida President and Florida Commissioner of Education
Ms. Betty Castor serves as Chair of the Citizen Oversight Committee after spending her entire career in public service and as a champion for all children. From her start as a teacher, Castor rose to serve as President of the University of South Florida and was twice elected Florida’s Commissioner of Education. Ms. Castor was the first woman elected to the Hillsborough County Commission and the Florida Cabinet. In the Florida Senate, she co-sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment and led bills to fund early childhood education. Ms. Castor lives in South Tampa.

Committee Vice Chair
Sheriff Chad Chronister
Hillsborough County Sheriff and Longtime Child Protection Advocate
A community leader with a long record of protecting children and fiscal responsibility, Sheriff Chad Chronister is Vice Chair of the Citizen Oversight Committee. He oversees the $433 million budget of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office which includes two jails, other large-scale facilities, hundreds of vehicles, and thousands of employees. Sheriff Chronister has been closely involved in children’s causes for years; he has held significant leadership roles with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Metropolitan Ministries, and several other nonprofit groups. He lives in North Hillsborough County.

A detailed list of 1,785 school improvement projects planned over the next ten years is available at It includes 203 air conditioning replacements or overhauls, 63 aging roof replacements, $25 million for classroom technology upgrades, $23 million in safety and security improvements, and funding for four new schools in growing areas to relieve overcrowding. The deadline to register to vote on the Education Referendum is October 9.


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