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Hillsborough Schools Averts Financial Crisis After Receiving Federal Funds, Officials Say

Screenshot: Hillsborough County School District
Superintendent Addison Davis said more than $100 million in federal coronavirus relief aid has arrived, and more is on the way.

Superintendent Addison Davis said the school district has received $100 million, and more is on the way.

The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday voted 6-1 to approve a budget rescue plan that has allowed the district to avert a fiscal crisis that could have led to a financial takeover by Tallahassee.

Part of the rescue plan relies on the arrival of more than $100 million in federal coronavirus relief aid. But Deputy Superintendent Michael Kemp cautioned that the district needs to find ways to boost its revenue to avoid falling into debt again.

"Even with the federal relief dollars, the pressure is on us," Kemp said.

"The pressure is on us to make sure we find new revenue sources moving forward and that we continue with the cost controls. It is not going to be -- this is not a one and done deal. We are not ok. We have to continue to work on our strategy."

At a press conference Monday, Superintendent Addison Davis said more coronavirus aid from Washington is on the way.

Davis said the district is reaching out to teachers and principals for ideas on how to leverage the money for long-term learning.

"How can this money help you accelerate learning, address mental health, help with closing the achievement gap, with addressing the technology divide there may be currently?" Davis said.

Davis also said the district has had to make fewer jobs cuts than predicted.

About 700 positions are being eliminated, instead of the 1,000 originally projected.

Monday’s news comes a week after the school district received a plan from its team of financial experts. Accountants dug into the budget and found tens of millions in cost-savings — some pandemic-related — along with extra property tax income due to the booming real estate market.

It also comes just ahead of a mid-May deadline from the state Department of Education which has threatened a financial takeover of the beleaguered school district unless it gets its financial affairs in order.

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