Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

On 4-2 vote, Hillsborough School Board renews Elia's contract

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board, which gave superintendent MaryEllen Elia an above-satisfactory job rating last week, renewed her contract Tuesday afternoon by a 4-2 vote.

Board member April Griffin, who has been Elia's biggest critic on the board, and member Susan Valdes voted against the renewal. Cindy Stuart was absent.

Elia, 65, is about to start her 10th year on the job. Unlike other superintendents, she has a three-year contract that is rolled over for an additional year annually with at least a satisfactory job evaluation. Such arrangements are no longer allowed under state law.

She is paid more than $270,000 a year, including bonuses that are tied to student performance.

This year, Elia improved upon the satisfactory rating given by the board in 2013, earning a grade of "above satisfactory." That made the vote during Tuesday's board meeting largely a contractually mandated vote of confidence.

The discussion of Elia's job performance at Tuesday's meeting was significantly less contentious than last year's evaluation cycle, when Griffin and Valdes gave Elia the lowest marks possible before voting against an extension. Although several public speakers and board members questioned the bonuses included in the contract —- especially any tied to student performance on the FCAT, which is being replaced — most complaints were centered on the structure of the contract or the rubric used to evaluate the superintendant, not on Elia's personal performance.

"None of us is perfect, and I don't think we could expect that she is going to have the highest marks, because if she does it would leave no room for growth," said member Doretha Edgecomb during remarks emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the superintendant and the board.

Griffin tempered her past criticism of Elia, even making a point to compliment the superintendent for her role in promoting the Sealant and Fluoride Program, which offers dental screening and care for second-graders at select Hillsborough schools. But before she voted against renewing Elia's contract, Griffin attempted to postpone the vote until all seven members could be present. She was overruled by her fellow board members.

Stuart, who was absent from Tuesday's meeting, did note that the board had been left out of school district decisions in her most recent evaluation of Elia.

Elia and the board also addressed the School District's conflict with Charter Schools USA, which risks losing the charter for its three existing schools in Hillsborough County. Elia said there are plans to meet with the Charter Schools USA board, which she says does not have the sort of local governance required of Hillsborough charter schools.

Member Candy Olson accused Charter Schools USA of being a for-profit organization that misrepresents the school district's threats to revoke its charter, noting that the school system works successfully with 40 other charter programs.

"Anyone who has been paying attention for more than 20 minutes knows we wouldn't close a school in the middle of the year," Olson said, alleging that Charter Schools USA is suggesting that could happen. "I don't know why this for-profit group has taken this confrontational stance."

On 4-2 vote, Hillsborough School Board renews Elia's contract 08/12/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In Iowa, the president channels his inner candidate Trump (w/video)


    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Struggling to advance his agenda in Washington, President Donald Trump traveled to the Midwest for a raucous rally with his loyal supporters — the kind of event he relished before winning the White House.

  2. Applications for U.S. jobless aid tick up to still-low 241,000

    Working Life

    WASHINGTON — Slightly more people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applications remained at a historically low level that suggests the job market is healthy.

    On Thursday, June 22, 2017, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits a week earlier. [Associated Press]
  3. Study: States with legalized marijuana have more car crash claims


    DENVER — A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana.

    A close-up of a flowering marijuana plant in the production room of Modern Health Concepts' greenhouse on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. [C.M. Guerrero | Miami Herald/TNS]
  4. Black lawmaker: I was called 'monkey' at protest to change Confederate street signs


    A black state legislator says he was called a "n-----" and a "monkey" Wednesday by pro-Confederates who want Hollywood to keep three roads named after Confederate generals, including one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan.

    Rep. Shevrin Jones.
  5. Senate GOP set to release health-care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON -— Senate Republicans on Thursday plan to release a health-care bill that would curtail federal Medicaid funding, repeal taxes on the wealthy and eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood as part of an effort to fulfill a years-long promise to undo Barack Obama's signature health-care law.

    From left, Uplift Executive Director Heidi Mansir, of Gardiner, Maine, former West Virginia State Rep. Denise Campbell, Elkins, W. Va., University of Alaska-Anchorage student Moira Pyhala of Soldotna, Alaska, and National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson appear before Democratic senators holding a hearing about how the GOP health care bill could hurt rural Americans, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, June 21, 2017. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was expected to push for a vote next week on the legislation, which would eliminate much of Obama's 2010 overhaul and leave government with a diminished role in providing coverage and helping people afford it. [Associated Press]