Hillsborough County Public Schools Face Funding Problems

HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins

HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins

Aneesa Anderson, Photo & Design Team Member, & Staff Writer

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Tampa Bay, Fla.–Schools all around Hillsborough County are feeling the effects of a constantly tightening budget. Most recently, schools in the Tampa Bay area have not been receiving the funds they need to make repairs and replacements that are long overdue in schools and meet the schools’ educational needs. According to Bay News 9, critics are saying that the $88 million budget approved for this school year is not enough to effectively fund basic educational requirements.

The lack of funding has made it so that tough decisions have to be made on what issues can and cannot wait to be remedied. According to the Tampa Bay Times, at the annual back-to-school conference on Aug. 24, Superintendent Jeff Eakins said that as of Aug. 6, every school in the district had working air conditioning systems, but nearly 40 more schools had systems that needed to be repaired or replaced.

Some efforts have been made to resolve the issue. According to the Miami Herald, Florida school superintendents told Gov. Rick Scott to bring lawmakers back to the Capitol to approve more money for schools back in early March. These efforts did lead to increased funding, but the money did not go toward repairs for schools. According to the Sun Sentinel, the budget for this year was shaped by the Florida Legislature’s response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School; and, though the Legislature gave schools $485 million more for this school year, $400 million is being used for school safety.

The repairs and upgrades to systems in schools have been temporarily placed on a back burner and people are not very happy about it, especially Florida school superintendents. Florida school superintendents believe that the budget is good for strengthening school safety, but “neglects basic education needs,” says Reuters. But others, like Sen. Bill Galvano, say that school safety is the most important thing, and that other things can wait.