Issue 4: Editorial: Last time on HCPS…

Budget cuts have brought out a side of HCPS that needs reformation, starting with respect to the teachers

It is very satisfying to write an editorial and publish it in our student newspaper–it’s disappointing that many other Hillsborough County Schools lack this privilege. Not because they can’t write, but because their programs have been cut.

Superintendent Davis came into the Tampa Bay Area last summer ready to lead, and we were more than pleased to interview him for a feature. Unfortunately, our opinion on Davis and his leadership have changed over the course of the past school year, surrounding Mr. Davis and the school board as a whole. HCPS’ financial crisis isn’t anything new, dating back to 2015 in an April letter written by Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. But walking into first period and hearing about the newest double take-worthy decision made has become a new routine.

In addition to the cuts themselves being saddening to see for the HCPS community, it’s Mr. Davis’s handling of the matter that inspired this editorial. An abrupt email should not be the messenger for a decision that uproots a teacher’s stability. Our teachers give so much this past school year, especially. To clump them into a mass-produced email with little notice brushes away that hard work–which is already so ignored–like it’s crumbs in the cafeteria.

This choice of delivery makes us question Mr. Davis’s sense of professionalism. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 15,162 certified teachers serve Hillsborough County Public Schools. There is no guideline saying not to treat each of those teachers as people and not just numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s a cliched phrase, but will linger with every cut.

Implicitly, the cuts won’t just impact teachers. Kids who have waited years to finally take a certain language like Latin, only to find that it’s been cut. Student journalists scrambling to publish quality work when the yearbook and newspaper have been combined to save money. A teacher shouldn’t have to give a sigh of relief that they weren’t cut when this Hunger Games reaping-Esque message skips their inbox.

It’s reassuring to know that teachers can be put into a job pool, at the bare minimum of a “positive perspective.” But that’s giving Mr. Davis too much credit, though, because we shouldn’t be in this situation in the first place. We’ve seen these “solutions” build up and hit our schools one by one. When the next school year rolls around, and there’s an awkward ratio of teachers: students, or a lower IB diploma rate because the administration has to learn another curriculum in place of an IB Coordinator or Assistant Principal, the cause will be obvious.