Following the money in Hillsborough
With the start of the new school year, Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins vowed to get spending under control. With School Board approval, he hired the Gibson Consulting Group, which specializes in school district finances.
On Tuesday, Greg Gibson will provide a status report as board members settle on a scope of work.
Gibson has been reviewing district reports and meeting one-on-one with board members, according to the agenda for Tuesday's 9 a.m. workshop. The gathering at 901 E Kennedy Boulevard is open to the public.
At an earlier workshop in September, Eakins and Chief of Staff Alberto Vazquez outlined steps they have already taken to address a $142 million "spending hole" that, if left unchecked, would have jeopardized the district's ability to borrow money at favorable rates.
In other budget-related developments:
* Details are expected soon about Empowering Effective Teachers, the Gates-funded evaluation system. The district is changing course, from a costly system of full-time peer evaluators to what will likely be a more localized, "non-evaluative" system of teacher mentors. Eakins has assembled a committee of teachers and school officials to help plan the transition. District leaders said they're also preparing a "Frequently Asked Questions" document for the teachers, which they will share with the public as well.
* We are awaiting updates on teachers' union negotiations. Talks broke down Thursday, with union director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins accusing the district of allowing its support workers to live "in poverty." The union asked for raises for teachers, who already benefited from a pay plan that accompanied the Gates reforms; and support employees, whose wages are as low as $9.12 an hour. Employee relations manager Mark West said that because of the financial situation, the district can offer only "the bare bones minimum" this year.