Facing down hundreds of angry teachers on Tuesday, Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins came as close as any administrator has to acknowledging planning was poor when the district rolled out its Gates-funded teaching reforms.
Reading from a prepared script, Eakins said the district was not prepared for the daunting cost of raising teacher salaries in accordance with a pay plan that was enacted in 2013.
In them, Eakins does not mention his predecessor, MaryEllen Elia, by name. Nor does he take responsibility himself for the financial morass that followed.
But, he said, the district did not "plan accordingly," as it had promised before implementing the new pay structure. Instead, it ran through $130 million in reserves and expanded the workforce by 900 positions.
Eakins also read the FAQ that teachers were given when it was time to decide whether to opt into the new pay plan. It clearly states that, if money runs short, pay can be renegotiated.
Not everybody heard the superintendent's explanation. Some of the teachers marched out of the room in the middle and joined a group who were picketing outside.