Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hillsborough approves $3 billion schools budget, and a lower tax rate

TAMPA — With no discussion, the Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday adopted a $3 billion budget and a property tax rate that is lower than last year's, reflecting an increase in property values.

Homeowners will pay $641.40 for every $100,000 in property value, after exemptions. That's down from $690.60 in the current year.

Budget hearings for the Hillsborough schools, despite the large amounts in question, are almost always routine and largely scripted events.

School superintendent Jeff Eakins, who is seeking voter approval of a half-cent sales surtax for capital improvements, noted that, after years of budget-cutting, the district was able to add $5 million to its main reserve account.

RELATED: Two audits seal the deal. Hillsborough will vote on sales taxes for schools, transportation.

Three years ago, when the reserve was losing tens of millions of dollars each year, bond-rating agencies sounded alarms.

"We made a commitment to our bond-rating agencies to reduce our overall staffing, and that has brought us in line," Eakins said.

Public comments included a plea from north Hillsborough parent Elissa Mitchell that district officials get a better handle on the school system's air conditioning needs.

"As I'm sitting here in the board room, it is extremely freezing so I had to step out just to go outside because my nose is running," she said. "And in my kids' schools, they have no air. I have my 7-year-old that suffers from pulmonary issues. We spent the whole Labor Day weekend in the hospital."

Eakins said earlier in the day that his staff is working on a list of items that the district would buy with the expected $131 million a year the 10-year sales tax would generate, if approved.

They also are working out details of a proposed seven-member committee that would oversee how the money is spent. And they are hoping a community organization will step forward to campaign for the referendum.

The schools referendum is one of two local sales tax measures on Hillsborough's Nov. 6. ballot. Transportation advocates are pushing for a 1-cent, 30-year sales tax to support road projects and the bus system.

According to the Supervisor of Elections Office, the first early ballots will be mailed to voters later this month.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.

Comments
Eakins takes school districtís story to Ballast Point

Eakins takes school districtís story to Ballast Point

TAMPA — First, the disclaimer: "I'm not here to tell you how to vote," Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins told his audience. "I'm here to educate you about why we're here."From there, in his Tuesday evening presentati...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Report: Pinellas improves on achievement gap, but needs to do better

Report: Pinellas improves on achievement gap, but needs to do better

School for black students in Pinellas County is getting better, according to a report detailing the school district's progress a year into its effort to close the educational achievement gap by 2027.Of the six measures included in...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Struggling Plato Academy Pinellas Park vows to boost school culture, attendance

Struggling Plato Academy Pinellas Park vows to boost school culture, attendance

After their school earned a D grade for its first year in operation, educators from Plato Academy Pinellas Park presented an improvement plan to Pinellas County school officials on Tuesday, pointing to plans to improve&#...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Pasco schools budget faces showdown over salaries

Pasco schools budget faces showdown over salaries

For the past several months, Pasco County school employees have agitated for pay raises this year.School Board members said they'd look for ways to direct more money into salaries, but so far haven't found much. The current proposal contemplates abou...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Pasco School Board to lay groundwork for new schools

Pasco School Board to lay groundwork for new schools

With enrollment growth continuing and school crowding yet unresolved, the Pasco County School Board is taking steps to add three promised new schools to its inventory.The School Board is poised to approve a 5-year work plan that includes a new middle...
Published: 09/18/18
Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

Florida education news: Oversight, choice, growth and more

OVERSIGHT: To help convince voters to support its cause, the Hillsborough County school district announces well-respected Betty Castor will head a committee to review spending of revenue from a requested sales tax increase. The money would be de...
Published: 09/18/18
Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

Pasco schools see higher enrollment growth than projected

In discussing pay raises, Pasco County school district officials have asked their employee negotiating groups to wait and see if more students turn up than expected.The state projected district enrollment to rise by 1,001 children. Any more than that...
Published: 09/17/18
Pasco school district changes its choice application procedures

Pasco school district changes its choice application procedures

Pasco County parents seeking to send their children to schools other than the ones they're assigned to will face a new set of deadlines this fall, as the district streamlines its process.Instead of separating the applications between magnet and open ...
Published: 09/17/18
Florida education news: School security, teacher pay, drinking water and more

Florida education news: School security, teacher pay, drinking water and more

SECURITY: The Florida Board of Education discusses ways to offer school districts more flexibility in the way they use future guardian funding. State lawmakers, however, aren't ready to release unused money from the current year allocation, TC P...
Published: 09/17/18
ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Sept. 9, 2018

School security remains a point of high concern for Florida schools. When it comes to funding, there’s talk of spending more. Yet when the idea of giving school districts flexibility in deciding how to use the money, there’s not too much ...
Published: 09/15/18