Hillsborough School Board will turn cameras on for two important workshops

Viewers can see the action on the website or TV
Hillsborough County School Board meeting [OCTAVO JONES | Times]
Hillsborough County School Board meeting [OCTAVO JONES | Times]
Published June 19

Returning some - but not all - transparency to its governance, the Hillsborough County School Board will hold its next two workshops in the main board room, with cameras on.

On Thursday, they will meet at 10 a.m. to discuss the upcoming search for a superintendent to replace Jeff Eakins, who is retiring in June of 2020.

On Tuesday, June 25, also at 10 a.m., they will discuss student discipline - a huge topic for teachers in recent years - and the district’s relationship with the Florida State Fair.

The decision to televise the June 25 workshop was “based on the topic and the number of people we expect to either come to the workshop or be interested in it,” district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said in an email.

The Tampa Bay Times, which has been pushing for televised workshops ever since they were curtailed in February, had been in contact with several individuals and organizations who considered attending and doing their own live-streams. These included teacher activist and blogger Ryan Haczynski, the teachers’ union, the Whistleblower Facebook site, and educator April Cobb, who conducts web-based watch parties about diversity issues in the schools.

Since 2017 and the beginning of this year, workshops were televised routinely until, under the leadership of Tamara Shamburger, the district stopped televising both the workshops and the public comment section of their board meetings.

Arja said “there are no other changes,” which means public comment will still be omitted from the broadcast and live-stream of the 4 p.m. meeting on June 25.

All of these gatherings are open to the public and anyone who wishes to live-stream the 3:30 p.m. public comments is free to do so.

The district just renewed its contract with Tampa Bay Arts and Education to carry programming that includes school board meetings, at a cost to taxpayers of $148,000 a year. To see the meetings, viewers can go to the school district’s website or, on television, look for them at Spectrum Cable channel 635 or Frontier channel 32.