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Proposed $1.89-billion budget trims school and administrative programs

The Hillsborough School Board approved a tentative $1.89-billion budget and reorganization Thursday that includes cuts from the schools to the administration building.

The approval came after Superintendent Earl Lennard removed the budget from last week's agenda and chopped large increases for several top administrators, which ranged from $4,000 to $14,000.

Officials called the planned raises poorly timed.

"I feel some folks were questioning what we were doing," Lennard said. "Perhaps it wasn't the most prudent thing."

Board President Joe Newsome said the administrators deserved raises because of additional responsibilities, but "because of the money picture right now, it was something we could not do right now."

Tax rates are expected to go up slightly 8.71 to 8.73 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a $100,000 home with a homestead exemption would pay $1.42 more a year in taxes.

Principals have been asked to chop their budgets by 2 percent and the district administrators by 5 percent to come up with $103-million for additional expenses and teacher raises. Dozens of administration-level vacant positions are being reclassified or eliminated.

Despite $59-million in new state and local dollars, the costs of health insurance, school construction, gasoline and utilities have eaten up the additional dollars, officials said.

Two charged with manufacturing fake green and Social Security cards

WIMAUMA _ Inside a house on Ruth Morris Road on Wednesday night, Hillsborough sheriff's detectives found machines used to make fake green cards and Social Security cards, thousands of blank fake cards and $20,000 in cash.

Detectives arrested Valeria Bravo, 44, and Calixtro Sotero, 44, both Mexican immigrants, and charged them with manufacturing false identification cards, conspiracy to manufacture identification cards and possession of false identification cards.

Bravo and Sotero admitted to making fake cards, detectives said. They were released from the county jail Thursday after posting $2,500 bail.

Green cards permit people who are not American citizens to work in this country.

Tampa home invasion leads to dog's death and search for two suspects

TAMPA _ Two gunmen kicked in an apartment door Wednesday night and shot a Doberman pinscher as the dog guarded its owner.

Brandie Anthony, 22, of 3424 W Lambright St. was not injured during the home invasion at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday. But her 7-year-old dog, Cid, took at least one shot to the left shoulder, said sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder.

Severely wounded and facing amputation of a leg, the dog was humanely destroyed.

The two male suspects carried semiautomatic weapons, Reder said. One pointed his weapon at Anthony while demanding to see a former tenant. The dog jumped at them. The two fled after shooting the dog.

Witnesses provided little information about the suspects, who left in a white sedan.

Video cameras, radios stolen from 73 buses at school district garage

TAMPA _ Hillsborough sheriff's deputies want to know who stole video cameras and radios from 73 school buses parked in the district's bus garage at 9455 Harney Road.

Workers discovered the thefts Wednesday about 2 p.m. as they prepared to start routine maintenance on the vehicles before the start of the school year Aug. 8, said Mark Hart, a district spokesman. The buses had not been used since the end of summer school on July 3, he said.

At least 60 cameras and 12 portable, two-way radios are missing, sheriff's spokesman Rod Reder said. Hart estimated the value of stolen equipment at $25,000.

School buses are counted every day, Hart said but aren't necessarily entered. The district will be reviewing its security procedures.

All the radios and at least some of the cameras will be replaced by the time school opens in August, he said.