Florida students head back to school in the heat of August. A Tampa Bay Times column notes some of them suffer in sweltering buildings with worn-out air conditioners.
This problem has many causes. Temperatures routinely break 90 degrees. School officials disagree on the best way to manage the heat. And, for a variety of reasons we’ll get to in a minute, the district is strapped for building maintenance money.
The nutshell version is that the bulk of Hillsborough’s more than 230 public schools are older buildings with cooling units that have reached the end of their usefulness. Your Florida Legislature keeps funneling public school dollars into private charter schools, so money to fix or replace failing systems is disappearing.
Fun fact: Hillsborough schools receive $145 million less from the state funds for routine maintenance than seven years ago. Thank your Legislature for that.
The basis for this “fun fact” is not clear. The state budget seven years ago allocated $122.1 million for building maintenance at non-charter public schools. That’s total, statewide. The Hillsborough County school district received $8.7 million of that. (See page 30.) The Times does not explain how the district could have lost $145 million in state maintenance funding since 2010. Continue Reading →