Hillsborough seeks to be open and on message about budget cuts
The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a plan that outlines the ways it will communicate changes as it implements some of the Gibson Consulting Group's cost-cutting recommendations.
The document outlines numerous communication platforms, recognizing that people gather information in a variety of ways; and stresses the importance of sending out a consistent message: That students come first.
"Students and families remain at the top of our organizational chart," is one of six themes outlined in the paper. Another: "Every decision made is focused on the success of our students."
A third point reassures the workforce that "all efforts and improvements will be executed with careful coordination with our employees and union groups."
The administration has taken criticism recently from School Board members who are hearing from anxious teachers and parents as the district looks for ways to save $130 million this year.
As Gradebook reported in recent weeks, dozens of clerical workers have been sent to "the pool" for available jobs outside the district's central offices. Schools are under a hiring freeze. And a new committee, headed by Deputy Superintendent Van Ayres, will look at ways to fill existing teacher vacancies with district employees who are not now in front of classrooms.
The communications document outlines a plan for roundtable employee meetings, virtual town hall meetings to be conducted via social media, information pushed out on the Newsdesk page of the district's website, and short, weekly videos.
While much of the above is intended for the district's 26,000 employees, the public will have access to the materials that appear on the website. These include 30 minute video shows called Inside the Issues, featuring Superintendent Jeff Eakins.
There is also a commitment to providing public documents, information and interview opportunities to the media.