Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Charter school growth means $12 million less for Hillsborough school district

TAMPA — The continued exodus of public school children for publicly funded charters is not expected to end, and it has some Hillsborough County school district officials concerned.

Charter schools project they will serve 18,948 students when classes resume in August, according to estimates given Monday at contract talks between the district and the teachers union.

If that number holds — and charter schools director Jenna Hodgens is somewhat skeptical — it will represent a sharp increase from the 14,780 reported in September 2013.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it was closer to 16,500 or 17,000," Hodgens said.

That's still an increase of 15 percent, following several years of growth as great as 20 percent.

"It used to be we'd lose a few kids, and it wasn't a big deal," Stephanie Woodford, the district's chief human resource officer, said at Monday's meeting.

"But if this continues, we've got huge hurdles in store."

Funding leaves the district, too, when families opt for independently operated charters. The district this year estimates it will lose $11.9 million from its budget, based on the higher projections. That money arguably follows the students to the charter schools. But it means less flexibility for the district, which still has fixed costs such as maintaining its buildings and operating buses.

Six new charter schools are opening, including a high school in Town 'N Country. And other existing schools are expanding.

The $11.9 million loss is just one in a long list of expenses that will eat away at the windfall teachers might have anticipated this year when the governor and Legislature announced they were increasing state funding for education.

District officials also expect they'll pay:

• an additional $1.5 million for the McKay Scholarship Program for disabled students, based on a change in the law that makes it easier to qualify.

• $12 million for scheduled teacher raises for those who qualify under the new Empowering Effective Teachers pay scale.

• $9 million to cover an additional hour of reading at 26 low-performing schools.

• $5.8 million in rising health insurance costs.

Lesser amounts are needed for eight new supervisors to assist with special-needs transportation, nurses and classroom aides who will no longer be paid by a federal grant and the rising cost of a state pension program.

The list adds up to $47 million, which is $2 million more than the state increase, said budget manager Susan Garcia. Union negotiators have asked for details about some of these items as bargaining continues.

While some of the costs are inevitable, Woodford said officials are looking closely at the charter school issue to analyze how district-run schools might be able to win departing students back.

"Where are they? Why are they leaving?" Woodford said. "Twelve million out of our budget right off the top isn't good, so that's been a topic of conversation."

In some cases, she said, "We're trying to reach out to the students who left, just like we do when they withdraw, and find out why they're going elsewhere."

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or Follow @Marlenesokol.

Charter schools opening this year

These new charter schools are opening in August:

• Florida Virtual Academy, an on-line school;

• Early Career Academy, a dual degree program for 11th- and 12th-graders who wish to pursue an associates degree;

• Town 'N Country High School, which will seek to serve students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out;

• Bridgeprep Academy, which will have a dual-language program;

• Village of Excellence Academy Middle School;

• Lutz Preparatory Middle School.

Source: Hillsborough County School District

Charter school growth means $12 million less for Hillsborough school district 07/21/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 21, 2014 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Sue Carlton: Job or family when a hurricane's coming — a very Florida conundrum


    It must seem as foreign to Northerners as shoveling snow is to those of us raised in the Sunshine State: The very-Florida conundrum of having to choose between work and family — between paycheck and personal safety — when a hurricane comes.

    A hurricane helps the rest of us acknowledge the police officers, paramedics, hospital personnel, public works employees and others who stay on the job despite the storm. 
  3. After Tampa concert, Arcade Fire members party, preach politics at Crowbar


    After waiting more than a decade for Arcade Fire’s first appearance in Tampa, fans didn’t have to wait long for their second.

    DJ Windows 98, a.k.a. singer Win Butler of Arcade Fire, performed at a "Disco Town Hall" at Crowbar following the band's concert at the USF Sun Dome on Sept. 22, 2017.
  4. Review: Arcade Fire open hearts, play with passion at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa


    Gloves off, hearts open and disco balls glittering, Arcade Fire scaled the stage for the first time ever in Tampa, pouncing and flailing and performing with all the passion that’s made them one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands this century.

    Arcade Fire performed at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Sept. 22, 2017.
  5. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.