Hillsborough school board members continue ongoing discussions on budget crisis to avoid state takeover

The Hillsborough County School Board is meeting once again as the clock ticks down on their deadline to present a solvent financial plan to the state.

Last week, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran told the district it has until May 12 to deliver a plan that will finally right the district’s years-long financial woes. The Hillsborough County School District now has a deficit crisis of more than $100 million and counting.

A financial crisis, however, is not the only challenge school board members plan to address today. Looming over the threat of a state takeover is widespread dissatisfaction with the way the district’s new superintendent has handled staff cuts thus far.

Davis has said at least 800 positions need to be cut in order to get the district back on track financially. He began that process this spring and has faced deep criticism throughout the process.

A recent survey of Hillsborough teachers and school administrators showed at least 70% disapproved of Superintendent Davis’ performance thus far.

But with only 16 days to work out a solution, district leaders know they must find a path forward to work with their superintendent.  In the end, all agree that a state takeover is something they must avoid.

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"You're looking at a model that is absent of local leadership. When you are minus the local government, the local school officials, the mayor, everything that's developed locally, you're not really acknowledging the needs of your communities directly," said Hillsborough school board chair Lynn Gray.

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Board members are set to discuss solutions Tuesday morning. They say they’ll work on finding a permanent way to balance their books. They’ll also present Davis with a plan for him to improve his performance.