TAMPA, Fla. - Dozens of parents and teachers spoke out at Tuesday’s Hillsborough County School Board meeting. They are concerned the 1,000 positions on the chopping block due to a massive budget shortfall will have a lasting impact.
The speakers demanded attention, both outside and inside the school board meeting.
"These continued budget cuts are not benefitting our kids now, nor in the long run," said one woman.
The district is facing a $140-million budget deficit and about 1,000 positions are being trimmed from the workforce.
"I was just told on Friday that my position will not be at the end of this school year, so now I’m looking for a new job for the beginning of the next school year," Lomax Magnet Elementary art teacher Lashonda Wilburn said.
District officials say teachers like Wilburn may not be out of a job entirely. Those cut could be placed in other schools, even teaching new subjects.
Superintendent Addison Davis says hard decisions need to be made to protect the school district.
"We’re at a point where we're expanding charter schools, we’re losing students -- which is equivalent to losing leaders, teachers, district staff and support staff. That’s a reality," he said.
Some parents worry about the impact these changes will have on students.
"We need to make sure that we start with the student first and the student’s needs," Hillsborough County Council PTA President Frank Reyes said.
"We chose a place to live so that our kids would get the right to a quality public education and I’m worried that that’s in jeopardy," parent Jessica Dubois shared.
One group of concerned parents rallied together telling the board they want a citizen’s advisory committee formed to oversee the district’s budget decisions.
"Better communication, transparency and accountability for the mismanagement of funds in this district," said parent Paula Castano.
The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association says it is working to make sure every person whose position is on the chopping block will have a job next school year.