TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Hillsborough County Schools is facing over a $100 million deficit in its budget.
The superintendent and school board members held a meeting Thursday morning going over the budget and how they plan to fix it.READ MORE: Manatee County Utilities Considers Expanding Service Area Following Piney Point Breach
School officials say they plan to get rid of that deficit in several ways, including letting go of around 1,500 teacher, staff and administrator jobs, something many teachers say is heartbreaking.
Sandy Marshall, current Hillsborough County Schools teacher says “I’m surprised by how big it is and I think I’m more surprised that it was able to get this big before more people were aware.”
It’s something many teachers and Hillsborough County families were not expecting to hear at Thursday morning’s meeting.
Dr. Stacy Hahn, the board’s Vice Chair says “It’s this perfect storm. We can’t adjust fast enough and the funding from Tallahassee decreasing.”
An over $100 million deficit in the district’s budget, leading to difficult decisions.
Addison Davis, Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent says “We will see class sizes that we learned last year as we came in that were somewhere around 8, 9, 12, 14, they will be opened to the brink, to the max.”
District leaders say to raise money, they will be letting go of staff, reducing overtime hours, reducing non-salary budgets, and identifying money from the state.READ MORE: Governor DeSantis Signs Controversial Anti-Riot Bill Into Law
Karen Perez, District Six school board member, says “This patchwork every few years, we get this crash and it’s because of that we don’t have sustainability.”
Officials say this deficit has been building up for six years, because of low-funding, a drop in enrollment, and not adjusting staff numbers.
Kimberland Jackson, former teacher, says “Recognizing, oh my goodness, we’re in a budget crisis when this has been looming and pending.”
Jackson says her former co-workers are frustrated with the situation.
“Now they have to be concerned in the middle of a pandemic, how many students they have to absorb into their classrooms because their colleagues are being cut,” said Jackson.
“I’m very concerned. Absolutely,” said Marshall.
Marshall says she’s worried about who will be let go.
“They’re tired. They’re flustered. They have to combat so many things,” said Marshall.
“We’re failing our kids and our families. It’s got to change and the only way that’s going to happen is with transparency and accountability.” said Jackson.MORE NEWS: DUI Saturation Patrol Takes To The Streets Of Pinellas County This Weekend
District leaders say they will have a list of the specific positions that will be cut by April 9. The district is also expecting almost $200 million in COVID-19-related money from the state to help with pandemic necessities.