Hillsborough Co. School Board meets to discuss budget shortfall

Hillsborough County

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The clock is ticking on the Hillsborough County School district as they have just a few days to submit a financial plan to the state to meet a deadline imposed by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.

State law requires school districts to maintain an emergency reserve fund that equals three percent of their annual budget.

Hillsborough County is projecting a shortfall in its reserve. With some school board members estimating the account will be more than $100 million dollars short this year.

In a letter to the School Board, Corcoran said that finances have reached “a point of crisis” and the district must have a reserve fund equal to at least two percent of the annual budget or the district will fall into receivership with financial decisions being conducted by the state.

On Thursday, school board members met to hear an update on progress to meet the May 11 deadline in an effort to come up with funds to meet the two percent goal.

“We cut 40 temporary teachers in the fall and then we cut 95 teachers for the end of spring for next year, so a total of 130 individuals that have been cut and know that one is too many,” said School Superintendent Addison Davis who says his staff has been working to cut the budget to meet the state goal.

School Board member Melissa Snively says the budget shortfall isn’t new.

“We didn’t get here in one year. I mean, it’s been a series of unfortunate decisions over several, several years,” said Snively.

District staff informed board members they have identified more than $80 million in savings, but they are still more than $10 million short of meeting the goal set by Commissioner Corcoran.

Board member Jessica Hahan says the district needs to work on a permanent solution.

“I do want to make sure that we are basing these strategies on recurring dollars that we fix this problem. We can not kick it down the road anymore,” said Hahn.

The School Board will meet again on May 11 to discuss their final plan before submitting it to the state.

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