The Hillsborough County Public School District announced a tentative plan Tuesday to raise starting pay for new teachers, just a week after saying that hundreds of teacher jobs would be cut.
Under the district’s proposal, 4,478 new teachers in traditional schools will be paid an annual salary of $46,900, up from $40,000 previously.
Last week, Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis said the district would eliminate some teachers' jobs.
On Tuesday, the district further clarified those plans:
- 149 district positions eliminated
- 424 unfilled vacancies will not be filled
- 246 positions are projected to be cut — 124 are teachers hired after Aug. 14 on temporary contracts. About 50 to 60 of them are expected not to return. Those hired before then will be reassigned to open positions at either their school or other schools.
Officials said all current, permanent teachers — those who were hired before Aug. 14 on standard contracts — will keep their jobs. The cuts are aimed at helping the district address a $72 million budget deficit.
In addition, the district said, as of Oct. 12, there are 3,079 fewer students enrolled than projected. As a result, that means $23.6 million less in state funding.
During the public comment period at Tuesday night's school board meeting, teachers, students, and parents spoke of the devastating impact of losing their favorite instructors.
"The cuts that are being made in our county every day are deeply affecting the programs that I have dedicated my life to," said Isabella Rodriguez, a senior at Plant High School who spoke in defense of art and music programs.
"Our school board says we need to put the students first and then they relocate funding to administration, leaving less money for paying teachers, resulting in teacher cuts. To me, this doesn't sound like students first."
Superintendent Addison Davis said the decision to cut teachers has been difficult, but necessary in order to make payroll that amounts to $66 million twice a month.
"The bigger picture of this is — for us and for me — I have to be able to look at it from a 30,000 foot perspective to look at the entire picture and be able to make payroll for 24,000 teachers every two weeks," he said.
The county received $38 million for teacher raises under House Bill 641, the state's Teacher Salary Increase Allocation. The bill, which was passed earlier this year, dedicates a total of $500 million toward increasing teacher salaries.
Eighty percent of those funds have to go toward increasing the minimum base salary for new teachers.
"They were very clear that it had to be allocated in a really specific way to our newer teachers," said Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins, executive director of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association.
"And while I am extremely happy that our new teachers are going to get such good raises, we did as best we could with the money we were given for our veterans," she added.
"That was put upon us by the state. So it is one of these many things where when we are talking to state legislatures, let's make sure in the future we remember our veterans as well."
Editor's Note: This story has been updated as of Oct. 21 at 11 a.m. with information from Hillsborough County Schools on layoffs/elimination of positions.