Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough schools aim to close budget gap without layoffs

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school district officials expect a budget shortfall of $97.7 million dollars next year, but believe they've found a way to cover all but $3.8 million of it.

"Other districts right now are laying (teachers) off, they're taking out programs that all of us are very committed to, music, art, athletics," said superintendent MaryEllen Elia during a School Board workshop Thursday. "We aren't there."

She said the district has spent years downsizing its $1.5 billion operating budget as the economy slumped, and preparing for the loss of federal stimulus dollars this summer.

But the real savior comes in the form of two chunks of money — $41.2 million in federal help from the Education Jobs Fund awarded in the fall, but not yet spent, and an expected $22.9 million decrease in the district's contribution to the benefits of its 25,515 employees.

All of those numbers remain in flux as the state Legislature grapples with its own budget for the 2011-12 school year. The district arrived at its figures by averaging the Senate and House funding proposals, said finance director Gretchen Saunders.

Other potential savings in Hillsborough include around $15 million in money that had been set aside for hurricanes, maintenance problems, and property insurance deductibles that weren't spent last year.

The district also plans to reduce all department budgets by 25 percent, cutting $3.5 million. And it expects to save around $4.5 million if the Legislature follows through on a plan to exclude elective classes from the 2002 class-size amendment, such as foreign languages and some science and social studies classes.

The first public hearing on the district's proposed budget is scheduled for July 26.

Elia said her staff was already hard at work on a plan to trim spending further, adding spending limits and preparing for an even smaller budget.

"So that next year we'll be in a position where we're able to shrink it," she said.

Tom Marshall can be reached at or (813) 226-3400.

Hillsborough schools aim to close budget gap without layoffs 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. After Hurricane Irma, Tampa Bay officers headed south to help out

    Public Safety

    When Hurricane Irma was forecast to pummel the Tampa Bay region, Tampa police Cpl. Whitney McCormick was ready for the worst — to lose her home and all of her possessions.

    Tampa International Airport Police Department Sgt. Eric Diaz (left) stands next to Tampa Police Department Cpl. Whitney McCormick at the Collier County Command Post in the days after Hurricane Irma. More than 100 local law enforcement officers traveled from Tampa Bay to help out the county. (Courtesy of Whitney McCormick)
  2. Forecast: Sunny skies, mainly dry conditions continue across Tampa Bay


    For Tampa Bay residents, Wednesday is expected to bring lots of sunshine, lower humidity and little to no storm chances.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Florida education news: Irma makeup days, HB 7069, charter schools and more


    MAKEUP DAYS: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart waives two of the required 180 days of instruction to help districts complete the …

    Education Commissioner Pam Stewart
  4. Rays morning after: At least Archer looked good



  5. Financially strapped Brooksville raises tax rate and fire fees

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — After conducting an intensive examination of the city's financial position over the past couple of months, the Brooksville City Council has settled on its 2017-18 budget and a tax increase and fire fee increase to help pay for it.

    City Council member Joe Bernardini voted against the budget and the tax rate increase, saying it contained no employee raises and almost no capital expenses.