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Town hall meeting will look at money and security in the Hillsborough County Schools

Hillsborough County School Board Member April Griffin will host a town hall meeting Wednesday evening at Greco Middle School. [HCPS]
Hillsborough County School Board Member April Griffin will host a town hall meeting Wednesday evening at Greco Middle School. [HCPS]
Published Mar. 16, 2018

Parents, employees, students and anyone else with concerns about the state of things in the Hillsborough County Public Schools is invited to a town hall meeting Wednesday evening at Greco Middle School.

April Griffin, a longtime School Board member who is elected districtwide, organized the 6:30 p.m. gathering as a way to take the pulse on what people are saying about the large school district and its current state of affairs.

"It's a conversation with the community," said Griffin, who will finish her final term on the board this November.

Griffin, who has organized meetings in years past to explore issues in student transportation and the workforce, said she had planned this gathering months ago, meaning to focus on the district's shaky finances.

Then Parkland happened, the Legislature responded with a shift in resources to school security and the two issues became intertwined.

"They built this year's budget around safety," Griffin said. Big questions lie ahead, including how the district will afford to place armed guards or officers in all its schools; and how it will make ends meet, now that unrestricted funding is coming in at 47 cents per student when initially Gov. Rick Scott had proposed $152 per student.

Scott's staff, for their part, say education spending is at record levels, and that the Parkland shootings pushed security to the top of their priority list. Critics of Scott and the Legislature say too much of the state's money is earmarked for school security, including a "guardian" program that trains  staff to carry weapons; and that better gun control laws would make everyone safer, inside and outside the schools.

Regardless of your position on gun access, the district is already in a spending hole that is leading to job reductions, unmet capital needs and what looks more and more like a freeze in teacher salaries. The town hall session is intended to find out how people feel about these issues – and where their priorities are moving forward.

Representatives will be on hand from the district's budget, facilities and security offices to answer questions, Griffin said.

Greco Middle is at 6925 E Fowler Ave. in Temple Terrace. The meeting will take place in the cafeteria.

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