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More Than 1,000 Job Cuts Coming To Hillsborough County Schools

School Board member Melissa Snively raises her hands -- as if balancing two options -- at a workshop
SCREENSHOT: Hillsborough County Schools
Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively spoke at a budget workshop Thursday, March 25, 2021

The school district says it must make the cuts, or risk not being able to pay its staff by summer.

Facing a budget shortfall of about $100 million, Hillsborough County Schools on Thursday discussed plans to eliminate more than a thousand jobs, or 7% of the staff.

The good news — officials say — is the proposed cut of 1,083 staff for the 2021-22 school year is about half what the Hillsborough County School Board anticipated back in January.

But Superintendent Addison Davis said these cuts won't be easy. And class sizes are likely to increase.

"It openly pains me to have to cut anyone at the school level, you know from teachers, support professionals, whether it be leaders, and also we have coaches,” Davis said at a school board workshop.

“And I get it. It could potentially impact overall performance," he said.

First, the nation’s eighth largest school district must sift through retirements and resignations before a final number of cuts is identified over the next two weeks, a district spokeswoman said.

“Any individuals who are impacted would be notified within the next two weeks but they will continue working through the end of this school year,” the spokeswoman said.

But board member Karen Perez said it was unfortunate that the list of cuts they received at the workshop was not more specific.

"These are teachers that help our students achieve their highest potential and we have no information on other areas of this district and cuts that will be made. It should have been included for us today," Perez said.

The superintendent replied that a full list of school district cuts will be available April 9.

If district leaders don't act, they say they won't be able to make payroll by the summer. Federal CARES Act money is on the way, but wouldn’t fix the problem.

Board Member Henry "Shake" Washington said he hopes the cuts mark the end of the district's long-standing cash crisis.

"I hope this is a one-time deal,” he said. “I hope we don't have to come back to the well again. Because you can't keep coming to the well, or you are going to get drowned in it."

I cover health and K-12 education – two topics that have overlapped a lot since the pandemic began.
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