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Hillsborough County Schools Approves Emergency Financial Plan

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - On Tuesday, the Hillsborough County School Board approved an emergency financial plan to send to the Florida Department of Education.

Three weeks ago, the district received an ultimatum letter from the state, if Hillsborough County Public Schools doesn't come up with a plan to fix its financial deficit, the state would take over running the district's budget.

The plan includes $101 million in CARES Act money from the state. That money will help the district correct it's financial crisis, but also pay for teacher salaries, COVID-19 personal protection equipment and technology for students.

Hillsborough County Schools parent, Earlishia Oates, says "We need to fix it. We can't keep covering it up with a band-aid and saying, 'Oh, we tried.'" Oates says she's noticed a lack of funding in her children's education. "Our black and brown kids are being left behind. With COVID-19, they were out for that year, some still doing E-Learning."

She says that's because of the district's recent financial deficit. Previously the district needed $86 million, but over the last month, it made budget and job cuts to bring that number down to $10 million.

HCPS Deputy Superintendent, Michael Kemp, says "We do need to make sure we follow all of the recommendations to ensure we are not in this situation again."

On Monday, the district received $101 million in emergency money from the state, covering the $10 million deficit. Tuesday, the Hillsborough County School Board approved to send the Florida Department of Education a new financial plan with that money included, to avoid a state takeover.

"Even with the federal relief money, the pressure is on us. The pressure is on us to find new revenue sources moving forward and that we continue with the cost controls," said Kemp.

District leaders say $24 million will cover E-Learning salaries, a COVID-19 response team, employee testing, a cleaning team, and any COVID-19 related expenses dating back to March 2020, but some of the $101 million will go to the schools.

HCPS Superintendent, Addison Davis, says they will "transition the remaining of the money to help children, to help students."

Oates suggests money needs to be put towards more resources for children, like laptops. "We need answers, we need the district to poor money into those schools on a regular basis and make sure all students receive the education they deserve."

The district has until Wednesday to sent the new financial plan to the Florida Department of Education.

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