Times Recommends: Yes on Hillsborough School Tax- Tampa Bay Times
Hillsborough voters should invest in local public schools and ensure safe and cool learning environment for our children and teachers. For the Hillsborough County referendum on a half-cent sales tax for school capital improvements, the Tampa Bay Times recommends voting Yes.
The Hillsborough County School District has achieved a record graduation rate and ranks among the top large school districts in the nation. Yet many of its schools inhibit rather than encourage learning because they are in such sad shape. Broken air conditioners, leaky roofs, lead in the drinking water – the schools are crumbling, and there is not nearly enough money to repair them or build new ones. As the state abdicates its responsibility to adequately fund public education, the only viable option is for Hillsborough voters to step up and approve a half-penny sales tax increase so kids can learn and teachers can teach in decent learning environments.
The need for more money is obvious. For more than a year, the Tampa Bay Times has chronicled how air conditioners routinely fail across the school district. Students are sweltering in classrooms where temperatures pushing 90 degrees are forcing some students and teachers to go home sick. On the first day of this school year, more than half of the county’s public schools submitted maintenance requests to fix busted air-conditioning systems. In the first nine days of this school year, the problem only grew worse, as a staggering 1,533 requests were made to fix air conditioners, temporary chillers, water fountains and water cooling units. Beyond endangering health, the busted cooling systems disrupt classes, destroy equipment and damage classrooms.