Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough school superintendent turns down raise, gets three-year contract

Hillsborough School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins will recommend new starting times at a special school board meeting today, although the schedule will not take effect until August 2018. [Times files (2015)]

Eakins

Hillsborough School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins will recommend new starting times at a special school board meeting today, although the schedule will not take effect until August 2018. [Times files (2015)]

TAMPA — The Hillsborough School Board gave superintendent Jeff Eakins a new three-year contract, telling him at a meeting Tuesday evening that they were amazed he turned down offers of a raise.

Eakins, who makes $225,000 a year plus benefits, refused to take a standard 3 percent increase after the first year of the new contract. He also declined, during negotiations, to consider the higher salaries of superintendents in other districts, leaving his pay rate unchanged.

The board considered including two $2,000 yearly bonuses if he improved the graduation rate and built up the main reserve account. They liked the grad rate incentive, but ended up deciding that he shouldn't be paid more for spending less, given the district's enormous financial challenges and funding cuts from the state.

The board, which approved the contract by a 6-1 vote, agreed to keep the $2,000 grad rate incentive and add another incentive later.

"My bonus is going to be when every student, every teacher, every employee becomes successful," Eakins told the board.

That kind of statement has endeared Eakins to members who tired of the hard-driving style of his predecessor, MaryEllen Elia.

Eakins was seen as a healer when they hired him in 2015, without a national search, to lead the nation's eighth largest school district.

On Tuesday, member Sally Harris, who cast the tie-breaking vote to hire him, praised his thoughtfulness and "approachable" personality.

"We gave this district somebody who believes in servant leadership," she said.

Susan Valdes was equally effusive. "You're an amazing leader," she said.

Tamara Shamburger, whose district includes some of Hillsborough's poorest neighborhoods and most challenging schools, said, "You're working really, really hard to turn every school around."

Less supportive was Melissa Snively, who cast the dissenting vote. She said Eakins was too reactive and that, as a mother of four students, she still sees too many problems with bullying and crowded buses.

Safety, she said, will be compromised even more with busing cutbacks that will take effect this fall for middle and high school.

She wanted to give Eakins just a one-year extension.

Despite the kind words offered by other board members, several warned that the district faces daunting challenges.

Eakins, in his first weeks on the job, learned the district was spending down its reserves so quickly that its credit rating was suffering. His staff found ways to slash spending.

But with new population growth, the district faces more than $1 billion in construction needs on top of another $1 billion in debt, and nearly $1 billion more in deferred maintenance, mostly roofs and air conditioners.

To save money, some board members are suggesting the district renegotiate a pay plan adopted during Elia's administration that gives most teachers a $4,000 raise every three years.

"I hope our employees understand that there are some very, very tough decisions that are coming as a result of all the things that we have found over the last two years," said board member April Griffin.

And there's concern that the district doesn't communicate effectively, making district schools less competitive than they could be among the growing charter school sector.

"Competition should inspire us to do our best," Snively said.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or msokol@tampabay.com. Follow @marlenesokol.

In other news

The Hillsborough School Board approved a rezoning plan that ends the busing of many North Tampa elementary children to New Tampa, merges Cahoon Elementary with Van Buren Middle, and resets boundaries in more than a dozen schools. Changes take effect in August 2018.

The board also named these principals: Denise Savino, Lennard High; Stacy Arena, Davidsen Middle; Pablo Gallego, Pierce Middle.

Hillsborough school superintendent turns down raise, gets three-year contract 05/16/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Manhattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. FSU-Bama 'almost feels like a national championship game Week 1'

    Blogs

    The buzz is continuing to build for next Saturday's blockbuster showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Florida State.

  3. Plan a fall vacation at Disney, Universal, Busch Gardens when crowds are light

    Florida

    Now that the busy summer vacation season is ending, Floridians can come out to play.

    Maria Reyna, 8, of Corpus Cristi, TX. eats chicken at the Lotus Blossom Cafe at the Chinese pavilion at Epcot in Orlando, Fla. on Thursday, August 17, 2017.  Epcot is celebrating it's 35th year as the upcoming Food and Wine Festival kicks off once again.
  4. USF spends $1.5 million to address growing demand for student counseling

    College

    TAMPA — As Florida's universities stare down a mental health epidemic, the University of South Florida has crafted a plan it hopes will reach all students, from the one in crisis to the one who doesn't know he could use some help.

    A student crosses the University of South Florida campus in Tampa, where visits to the school's crisis center more than doubled last year, part of a spike in demand that has affected colleges across the country. The university is addressing the issue this year with $1.5 million for more "wellness coaches," counselors, online programs and staff training. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  5. PTA treasurer at Pinellas school accused of stealing $5,000

    Crime

    The treasurer of the Parent-Teacher Association at a Pinellas County elementary school faces a felony fraud charge after she was accused of stealing from the organization to pay her credit card and phone bills.

    Lisa McMenamin, 50, of Tarpon Springs, is facing felony charges of scheming to defraud the Brooker Creek Elementary Parent-Teacher Association, where she served as treasurer. She is accused of stealing $5,000 to pay credit card and phone bills. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]