Thursday, April 26, 2018
Education

Hillsborough budget and athletics policy are headed for Sept. 11 hearings

TAMPA — Student athletes who transfer might be able to compete at their new schools, according to a policy moving through the approval process before the Hillsborough County School Board.

A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 11, after a 28-day comment period. If the policy survives another 20 days without objection, the board can vote on it Oct. 1.

Developed in the wake of a football eligibility scandal at Armwood High School and a change in state law, the proposed policy takes decision-making out of a principal's hands.

If the athlete has transferred after the start of the school year, he or she cannot play that year.

But the athlete can appeal that decision to a committee on a variety of grounds, including student marriage, a death in the family, a court-ordered move, or participation in the district's school choice program.

If the student does not get approval, he or she can appeal to the School Board.

School officials hope to have the policy in place in time for the 2013 spring sports season.

"You'll never get 100 percent success," board member Jack Lamb told athletics director Lanness Robinson. "But it looks like you're on the right road."

In other business, the board held the first of two hearings on the 2012-2013 budget and property tax rate.

The school rate is all but dictated by the state, as it is a condition to receive state school funding — in Hillsborough's case, that was $854 million this year.

The proposed rate would drop this year to $7.88 per $1,000 in taxable value, compared with $7.91 for 2011. The owner of a $200,000 house with a $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $1,379, down from $1,384.

A second hearing and vote is set for Sept. 11.

While board members were happy to see a lower tax rate, Stacy White and Susan Valdes took issue with the information readily available to the public.

Valdes, who has asked for school-by-school breakdowns in spending, said, "I am still hopeful that we may be able to get individual schools' budgets."

White, who also advocates more transparency, said that while staff is cooperative when he asks questions about the budget, "I do plan to vote no on that until I can get further information."

Member April Griffin pointed out that, unlike other districts that publish thick budget books, Hillsborough has weathered the recession and state funding cuts without layoffs or furloughs.

Valdes agreed, though like White, voted no on the budget.

White found himself alone in his effort to introduce a policy submitted by Terry Kemple, a School Board candidate who has been leading a movement to end school visits from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The policy Kemple and White backed did not mention CAIR by name. But it did use the term "unindicted co-conspirator," often used to describe CAIR's inclusion in a federal antiterror case.

White's motion died without a second.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

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