More Hillsborough policies will be discussed on Tuesday

Meeting without cameras, the School Board will discuss everything from teacher incentives to community schools.
Hillsborough County School Board members conduct the early part of their board meeting in a workshop format, without cameras. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Hillsborough County School Board members conduct the early part of their board meeting in a workshop format, without cameras. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]
Published Aug. 19, 2019|Updated Aug. 19, 2019

Hillsborough County School Board members are considering a policy changes that would give higher pay to teachers at high-needs schools.

They also might formalize the idea of “community schools.”

But they do not plan to televise the conversation planned for 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Instead, the workshop - which is open to the public under the state’s open meetings laws - will take place in a second floor conference room. The workshop will also include Superintendent Jeff Eakins’ “suspended agenda,” or update on key issues in the district.

Member Lynn Gray proposed the teacher pay policy, and it states that the superintendent will “financially incentivize those teachers who serve three or more years in a high-needs school.”

Incentive pay is an issue of wide interest to many teachers this year, as the district has worked to steer much of its available money to its 50 “Achievement” schools. Teachers there receive bonuses in three tiers, depending on the severity of the schools’s problems. But the district also has many so-called “Renaissance" schools in low-income communities that are not a part of the Achievement group because they have earned better state grades.

In a late addition to the agenda, member Cindy Stuart wants to put the practice of community schools into policy.

Stuart was instrumental in bringing outside charities and social service providers into Mort Elementary, a large school just north of the University of South Florida that serves many immigrant families.

The idea she is proposing would use schools as community hubs in a strategy that “leverages the power created when a broad representation of stakeholders coalesce around the welfare of children.”

Key players would include a districtwide community schools task force and, at the schools, community school resources teachers who can be employed either by the district or by partner agencies.

These teachers, sometimes called community school coordinators, would work alongside school-based committees that would include families, teachers, staff and students. The idea behind community schools is that children are better able to learn if their parents are assisted with issues such as housing, job training, medical care and food insecurity. School curriculum is also adjusted, with students getting access to culturally relevant materials.

Other policy changes that could be taken up Tuesday concern charter schools, which are operated by management groups outside the district.

Gray would like all charter school applications to include the location of the proposed school, a factor that is sometimes left vague. And she wants charter schools to have to post on their websites their original application and contract with their annual report, audit, budget and school grade.

These next proposed policy changes, suggested by chairwoman Tamara Shamburger, would affect school lunch:

Procedures to ensure that students who have reached their charge limit are not denied a regular meal; and a plan to make surplus food from the lunch program available to hungry families.