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Two more SLAM schools and a raise for substitute teachers

Hillsborough County School Board (Twitter).
Hillsborough County School Board (Twitter).
Published Dec. 3, 2018

The new Hillsborough County School Board sits down at 3 p.m. Tuesday for a packed agenda.

Joined by newly elected members Karen Perez, Stacy Hahn and Steve Cona, they will vote on five-year contracts for two SLAM charter schools.

One is an elementary school and the other is a combination high school and middle school, each hoping to serve 300 students at opening. They will join the Citrus Park SLAM, which has a sports theme and served 535 students as of the 20-day count. The schools, managed by Academica, are affiliated with Miami entertainer Pitbull.


* Kelly Educational Service substitute teachers are due for a raise.

The staffing company, which has supplied all of the district's substitutes since 2014 under a contract that can go as high as $15 million, is trying and get more teachers into the schools – especially the 50 low-income Achievement schools, where shifts are harder to fill.

Territory vice president Adam Watkins said the substitutes have not had a raise in eight years. The company bills the district $12.99 for a substitute with a college degree, and between $13.66 and $16.35 for those with additional teaching credentials.

But a 34 percent mark-up leaves teachers with little more than minimum wage.

“We have to start paying people,” Watkins said. “If you want to have people come into the classroom and be there for the right reasons, we need to compensate accordingly.”
The planned increase would raise wages and reduce the mark-up to 29 percent. And there also would be a separate, slightly higher scale for the Achievement Schools. For example: A teacher who accepts an assignment at an Achievement school, and is either retired from district teaching or has a Bachelors and a current Florida teaching certificate, would earn $13 an hour after the mark-up, or $104 a day.
Watkins said the company is having similar conversations with other school districts as well.
* The board will vote on boundaries for its next high school, now called “TTT.” The school, set to open in 2020, will draw from a large area now served by Lennard High, most of it east of U.S. High way 301. It will also pull from Durant, Newsome and East Bay, with a pocket of Lennard students in northern Ruskin moving to East Bay.  Details are here. 
* Policies under review consider everything from free speech rights when employees are out of school to an updated definition of the Achievement Schools. There are assurances that students can pray and discuss religion in school, as long as the setting is appropriate and the prayer is student-led. And the board will re-litigate the issue of whether a new school can be named after someone who is still alive. The proposed policy removes that prohibition. Tuesday’s vote is just to advertise the policies, which will be voted on later. But you can read them all here.