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School Board scrambles to balance budget

Posted: 10:56 AM, Sep 22, 2015
Updated: 2015-09-22 14:56:33Z

Hillsborough School leaders are holding off on hiring certain director positions and are trying to figure out ways to cut costs as the fund balance has dropped to its lowest amount in years.

The fund balance is now at $146,022,869. That's down from 229,632,311 in 2014 and 269,268,530 in 2013.

The district saw a $126 M increase in expenditures from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015. Salaries were the largest expenditure at $77 M.

Review the Superintendent's Budget Assessment -  http://wfts.tv/1iuvpYF

Hillsborough schools saw an increase in 10,000 students this school year and said the district now must hire more teachers to accommodate state class-size requirements, said Superintendent Jeff Eakins. Hillsborough schools also paid about $2 M dollars more in overtime this year.

April Griffin, a Hillsborough board member. said the district needs to take a closer look at the contracts that the district enters into to assess what is necessary and what is not.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins said they are reviewing every single contract. They district's financial office is reviewing the languages in the contracts and is renegotiating some of them. The district has already seen some cost savings, Eakins said.

Griffin also said she wants to talk more about state FSA testing and the costs associated with them. She said it costs the district a lot of money to comply with state testing but they get no help in paying for it. She said it also costs the district in time and effort.

"This is a conversation that we need to have," Griffin said.

Griffin said the costs include purchasing technology to help students take the state tests.

Eakins said there could be some ramifications for not taking the test.

Eakins said his top priorities remain aligned with school board goals: better customer services, improving and defining culture, improving the high school graduation rate.

'There's been more transparency in these budget discussions than I've ever seen in my time as a board member," Griffin said. "There's never been the openness I've seen now."

The next board meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, 3:00 PM at Raymond O. Shelton School Administrative Center, located at 901 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida.