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Local non-partisan group continue push for public school funding on national level

Hillsborough County school bus
Posted at 7:05 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 05:23:20-04

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — According to reports, Florida ranks 46 in per public education funding, spending nearly $5,000 per student less than the national average. Florida also ranks 49 when it comes to teacher pay.

“We are not getting enough money for our students," Paula Castano said. "We are not getting enough money for our teachers."

Castano is the co-chair and one of the creators of Hillsborough Public School Advocates (HPSA). It’s a non-partisan grassroots organization “fighting for better public schools” and more funding.

HPSA was formed about a year ago and has already grown to 5,000 members statewide. The group has made significant progress including the creation of the citizen advisory committee to review school funding and spending.

“We worked to get the ESSER dollars, which are the coronavirus relief dollars for our students," said Ellen Lyons. She’s a member of the PTA and HPSA.

They are now taking their fight national. Lyons, Castano, chairperson Jessica Dubois and several other members traveled to Philadelphia to take part in a national education conference. They gave a presentation focusing on the financial challenges plaguing public schools across the state.

“It’s a multifaceted complex issue, and we need everyone involved,” Dubois said. “What we are doing is for the long term, and for the betterment of education in the state of Florida for the long term.”

HPSA will also be featured in a documentary about the lack of funding in public schools across the state.

“This is about everyone in the county and state of Florida uniting together arm and arm and fixing this,” Castano said.