Give us the cash we’re owed

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. – Hillsborough County Schools’ superintendent Addison Davis said he would urge this week for federal ESSER funds to be released to the school district as soon as possible.

The money is part of the COVID relief effort.

What you need to know

  • Hillsborough County Schools officials hope to use federal COVID aid to offset millions used during the pandemic
  • However, FDOE has stated that the funds should not be used for budget items or recurring expenses
  • Local officials say they are owed the money after doing everything the state has asked them to do

School administrators said this may be the only way to keep the district out of financial compliance.

Hillsborough County Schools officials are trying to make up for a million dollar loss in the district’s reserves that could spark a government takeover.

“We will continue to need to implement mitigation strategies related to reducing the district budget, reducing travel, reducing overtime and leveraging federal dollars,” said Davis.

Some of those federal dollars are withheld because the Florida Department of Education has stated it does not want the money to be used for budget setting or recurring expenses.

Hillsborough School Board Chairwoman Lynn Gray calls it “unfair”.

“We moved money to cover all of the money we spent on COVID,” she said.

Other board members wonder why the money is not being distributed since the district opened as the state requested during the pandemic.

“We did everything,” said Nadia Combs. “We brought so many students back – we let our social workers go there to find students, and that’s why we’re now saying, ‘Please give us the money we owe.'”

Davis called the Department of Education Tuesday to request a meeting.

But he said he doesn’t know if money will be released before the end of the 2021 legislative session on April 30th.

“They’re just looking at how they fund education, the overall budget, and how that affects us so we don’t spend recurring dollars on difficult positions, and I think that’s kind of where we got into this difficult place in Hillsborough, “said Davis.

He said district officials do not anticipate any further downsizing at the moment.

Instead, they look for ways to save energy and talk about asking the community for financial help.

The school council members also discussed drawing up a professional development plan for Davis.

They said it will focus on several key areas including climate and culture, stakeholder trust, leadership style, relationships with board members and collaboration.

Details will be discussed at a later date.