The Florida Department of Education says Hillsborough County Public Schools could lose $23 million in funding if it doesn’t offer in-person learning as an option when the school year starts.
What You Need To Know
- Hillsborough County School Board’s original plan was state-approved.
- District voted last week to offer only virtual classes for the first four weeks.
- The state says it’s “actively working with the district.”
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran sent a letter to the board saying the new plan doesn’t follow the state’s guidelines. The board was given a deadline of August 14 to submit changes – or its funding could be impacted.
In a statement sent to Spectrum Bay News 9, the Department of Education said it is actively working with the district.
“Under state law, funding for students in traditional schools is higher than students learning full time in a virtual school. If Hillsborough were to discontinue with their approved reopening plan to educate all students virtually for four weeks, the $23 million figure you mentioned represents the difference in funding pursuant to state law.
Thankfully, we’re still collaborating with the Hillsborough County Public School District, and we’re not going to speculate on all the possibilities here. We’ve been grateful to have the constant partnership of Superintendent Davis and their team and look forward to a pathway for educating Hillsborough County’s at-risk students and families who wanted the choice of either in-person or innovative learning.
Both Broward and Miami-Dade counties are actually opening schools for students with special needs (disabilities), while most students begin virtually. Palm Beach’s plan is not finalized yet, although we’re very appreciative of the tremendous partner that Superintendent Fennoy has been thus far as we continue to work with the district on their reopening plan."
Spectrum Bay News 9 reached out to Hillsborough County Public Schools for a statement. The Media Outreach Manager said, "We appreciate the patience and flexibility of our families and staff. The health and safety of our entire community is our top priority."
But not every parent is waiting to hear the final decision.
“It’s the most important thing right now, and that’s why we’re still struggling on what to do with a week and a half until school,” Bridget Seifert said. She has a kindergartener and a first grader in the district and planned to send them back to the classroom when school started.
“We’re still looking at private, we’re still looking at charter schools. We may pull them from Hillsborough County because that choice [in-person learning] was taken from us.”Seifert says she understands that e-learning is the best option for some families, but she believes every family should have a choice. For her family, she says it’s imperative.
“What’s best for our children is to be in school, go back to a routine – not only for their activity level and their education. It’s just all around for our family,” she said.