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Hillsborough schools welcome new financial chief

Romaneir Johnson replaces former CFO Gretchen Saunders.
Hillsborough County Public Schools Chief Finance Officer Romaneir Johnson
Hillsborough County Public Schools Chief Finance Officer Romaneir Johnson [ Hillsborough County Public Schools ]
Published Apr. 1
Updated Apr. 1

TAMPA — As it seeks to extricate itself from longtime financial troubles, the Hillsborough County School District is doing so with a new chief financial officer.

Romaneir Johnson joined the school district recently, replacing longtime financial chief Gretchen Saunders.

In a notice to School Board members, superintendent Addison Davis said Johnson worked last as senior fiscal director for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, a statewide agency.

Before that, Johnson worked with large school districts including Detroit Public Schools, San Diego Unified School District, and the District of Columbia.

“Her expertise includes strategically leading many deficit districts through challenging times, to help them become fiscally sound,” Davis wrote.

“She has extensive experience leading teams of highly experienced financial professionals that were responsible for ensuring proficient financial reporting, compliance with regulatory standards and regulations, production of accurate and timely financial statements, and the creation of various revenue and budget reports.”

The Hillsborough district has struggled for nearly seven years to maintain a large enough cash reserve to satisfy the investment community and the state.

The district, also with sizable debt from school construction in the 1990s and 2000s, is now trying to balance its operating budget by making staff cuts that will affect more than 1,000 employees. Most are expected to transfer into existing vacancies that will be created through normal attrition.

The district’s capital budget got a boost two years ago with passage of a half-cent sales tax referendum, which is paying for school air conditioning improvements and other critical needs. In 2022, district leaders might go out for a property tax hike that would help with ongoing expenses such as teacher salaries.