Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Furloughs, fees, higher taxes proposed to ease Hillsborough schools' budget crunch

TAMPA — A Citizens Advisory Committee offered some creative budgeting ideas Tuesday for the cash-strapped Hillsborough school district.

Among them:

• Ask all employees — superintendent to bus driver — to take furloughs.

• Ask parents to pay a fee for sports and band programs.

• Increase employee share of health care costs.

And perhaps most controversial, ask taxpayers to increase property taxes, adding $50 for each $100,000 of taxable value.

Last week, the governor's budget office said it would hold back 15 percent of remaining money from all state agencies. Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said that could mean a $14 million spending cut beyond the district's existing $150 million shortfall.

Faced with options like ending athletics or laying off people, the committee struggled to find viable options, said Patrick Manteiga, chairman of the citizen group. The committee decided to turn its focus to the community.

The idea of generating more money through taxes came from the district's chief business officer, Gretchen Saunders, who spoke to the group.

"We need ways to save $20- or $30-million at a clip," Manteiga said. "You just can't make little cuts and save big money."

The committee made about half a dozen recommendations last year, Manteiga said, including cost savings such as asking parents to head clubs. After being required to teach an extra class each day, high school teachers had not wanted to sponsor clubs.

The committee had exhausted quick hits such as limiting coffeepots in classrooms to save electricity and doubling up on nurses for more than one school.

The school district was making these cuts already.

This year's summer school, from June 15 through July 23, will be consolidated into 53 elementary schools and nine middle schools, with no class on Fridays. The district is also looking into offering fee-based programs.

Elia said she had received e-mails suggesting summer school be cut. But she said the need is great and funding comes from many avenues, including grants.

She said she was looking for savings that would least affect students and teachers, and was leaving later Tuesday for Tallahassee hoping to find solutions.

Furloughs, fees, higher taxes proposed to ease Hillsborough schools' budget crunch 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  2. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures
  3. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor
  4. Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop


    The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.

  5. Sens. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, and Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, were among the highest-ranking local lawmakers on the Florida Society of News Editors' "Sunshine Scoreboard."