HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — A Tampa parent and pediatrician has started a petition to try and keep educators in the classroom. The online movement has already garnered more than 4,600 signatures.
Teacher jobs are on the line as the Hillsborough County School District faces a massive budget shortfall, due in part to lower enrollment this year. According to school leaders, there are 7,000 fewer children enrolled in the district this year compared to last year.
That prompted Anne Lenz to address school board members directly in their regular meeting Tuesday evening.
“This community will stand and fight with you for better education and better funding, but we will fight against you if you are not on the side of students and teachers," Lenz told board members.
She recently created the online petition that demands teachers remain protected from any potential cuts.
"Our district leaders need to demand better funding from the State of Florida to meet our district needs for teachers," the petition reads in part.
It also goes on to call out state leaders for indicating that districts will need to send funding for lower enrollment numbers back to the Florida Department of Education.
"The Department of Education needs to stop threatening loss of funds during a pandemic," the petition reads.
State funding is based on enrollment numbers. Due to the lower number of students this year, the Hillsborough County School District is facing a $56M payback to the state.
This comes as the district is also looking at cost-saving measures to address their budget problems. This includes cutting unfilled vacancies and seeing where there may be too many allocated staff members for the lower enrollment numbers for the 2020-2021 school year.
The district said many of the students who left are now in home school. School leaders are now working to track down the remaining families to better understand where they are.