TAMPA (FOX 13) - As teachers with the Hillsborough County School District prepare to leave for the summer break, many are left with concerns following a newly released report recommending cuts in the classroom.
In December of 2015, the school district hired Gibson Consulting Group to examine ways to cut costs. This week, Gibson's report found that the district could save $404 million over the next five years by phasing out 1,761 positions, the majority of which would be teaching positions, likely through retirement.
“If you cut positions, of course you’re going to save a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, or what the district will even end up doing,” said Jean Clements, President of the Hillsborough Classroom Teacher’s Association.
At a meeting on retirement Thursday evening, Clements fielded questions from many teachers concerning job security. She assured them that they are safe, and the Hillsborough County School District is growing so rapidly that keeping teachers is a priority.
“We are expecting thousands more students in Hillsborough County next year. We have a lot of people retiring this year. We have vacancies right now in every classification of employment in the district,” said Clements.
The school board has not approved any of the recommendations, and it's unclear if they plan to use any of the cost-saving tactics.
The recommended cuts are wide spread. In addition to more than 1,000 teachers, Gibson advised cutting bus drivers and driver aides, secretaries, and custodial workers. Other cost saving measures noted in the report included reducing clerical staff by replacing them with automations and extending the hours between bell schedules at each school district, allowing less bus drivers to have more time to pick up additional routes.
In a statement, Tanya Arja, spokesperson for the Hillsborough County School District wrote, "these are recommendations from a private consulting group and do not represent decisions of the school board or administration. Any recommendations that are pursued will be pursued in collaboration with the unions."
Arja added that the recommendations are only phase one of a three-part study. Phase II and Phase III will examine operational and academic management positions.
To read phase one of the study, click here.