MidPoint for Thursday, August 24 – Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin

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Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin was our guest for the entire hour. Originally elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014, Griffin was a leader in the movement to hold former School Board Superintendent MaryEllen Elia accountable, and was one of four members of the board to vote to terminate her contract in 2015.

Bedlam ensued throughout the Tampa Bay area establishment, with the Tampa Bay Times editorial page and Mayor Bob Buckhorn among the board’s biggest critics for doing so. But months later, some of those critics quieted down when it was discovered that the school board was in serious financial difficulties, difficulties that remain to this day.

Griffin talked about many of those issues during the hour-long program. You can listen back to the show here.

  • Josephine Amato

    Let us clarify the first 2 minutes of Ms. Griffin’s comments: Everyone is in agreement a Forensic Audit is needed. However, Gibson Consulting firm is not a financial audit agency, but a consulting firm. The other auditor the district uses has been utilized for the last 10 years, and that is never a good practice. Until the purchase of the 100 school buses last year HCPS had the oldest school bus fleet in the Country. School bus purchases are conducted in a very particular way in order to assist school districts with the purchase prices. Ms. Griffin has been on HCPS School Board since 2006, she did not ask for changes until 2012. The lack of preparedness of HCPS infrastructure rest on the veteran School Board Members and our Superintendent, who was the deputy for years. Our transportation department has been in Crisis for over ten years and the people who are paying the price are our most vulnerable children. 100% of HCPS Title I schools lost safe school bus transportation within 2 miles this year. 77 schools lost safe school bus transportation to public schools and 46% of those schools are Title I schools, 66 of the schools have a student body population of 50% or more racial and ethnic minorities. The American School bus saves lives it is 7000% safer than any other mode of travel to school. Every student deserves equal protection under law. At the last school board meeting the board approved to spend 788,000 $19,000 a month in legal services
    $18,000 a month for televising school board meetings
    $25,000 one time payment to review our energy cost & possibility of saving 17%
    $23,000 a month to Bright House to televise sports games
    Revision of Bell Schedule for lower performing schools???
    $43,000 annual to pay rent for a great Career & Refugee program, but don’t we have schools for that? Why are we paying rent? We spent It cost 1,121.44 to transport 1 student for 1 year in HCPS. It cost us 14,000 to transport one school board member last year. True American leaders do not continue to blame others, when it is clear that the decisions they are a making are not in the best interest of students.

    • Syndi Williamson

      Totally right on POINT!!! FURTHETMORE, firing a superintendent, but then paying them Millions…HUSH MONEY…THE DISTRICT IS UNETHICAL AND IMMORAL IN PRACTICE…LEADERS ARE THEIVES…taking away the chance for ALL STUDRNT to receive what they rightfully DESERVE…A FREE AND APPROPRIATE EDUCATION…29 year veteran/Retired. Doing Charter now. where Children seem to be more of a PRIORITY!

  • GMT

    One thing I agree on is the children are the ones suffering. Bus drivers forgetting special needs kids on the bus, or worse, striking a handicapped child. I remember the stories in the paper over the past year. I don’t think Charter schools are the answer. They create inequality, and are too open to financial abuse. Some things you just can’t privatize — a fine public school education, a decent prison system with a focus on education, drug rehabilitation, mental health assistance, a child protection/foster care system that is NOT focused on profits just to mention a few. Look at the track record of everything that’s been privatized. It ain’t pretty. I have personal experience with recent grads who don’t know how to write a complete sentence. This isn’t a good statement on our education system. You can’t run a school system while trying to squeeze profits out of it. You can’t treat teachers like they are an after-thought. Okay the GOP had its chance and gee, look at where we are. We barely have any environmental protection – – no consumer protections at all — and that hurts the quality of life. This does nothing to bring quality jobs to this state. Getting a new superintendent was just the start…….and as always, RESIST.