Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough school superintendent turns down raise, gets three-year contract

Hillsborough School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins will recommend new starting times at a special school board meeting today, although the schedule will not take effect until August 2018. [Times files (2015)]

Eakins

Hillsborough School District Superintendent Jeff Eakins will recommend new starting times at a special school board meeting today, although the schedule will not take effect until August 2018. [Times files (2015)]

TAMPA — The Hillsborough School Board gave superintendent Jeff Eakins a new three-year contract, telling him at a meeting Tuesday evening that they were amazed he turned down offers of a raise.

Eakins, who makes $225,000 a year plus benefits, refused to take a standard 3 percent increase after the first year of the new contract. He also declined, during negotiations, to consider the higher salaries of superintendents in other districts, leaving his pay rate unchanged.

The board considered including two $2,000 yearly bonuses if he improved the graduation rate and built up the main reserve account. They liked the grad rate incentive, but ended up deciding that he shouldn't be paid more for spending less, given the district's enormous financial challenges and funding cuts from the state.

The board, which approved the contract by a 6-1 vote, agreed to keep the $2,000 grad rate incentive and add another incentive later.

"My bonus is going to be when every student, every teacher, every employee becomes successful," Eakins told the board.

That kind of statement has endeared Eakins to members who tired of the hard-driving style of his predecessor, MaryEllen Elia.

Eakins was seen as a healer when they hired him in 2015, without a national search, to lead the nation's eighth largest school district.

On Tuesday, member Sally Harris, who cast the tie-breaking vote to hire him, praised his thoughtfulness and "approachable" personality.

"We gave this district somebody who believes in servant leadership," she said.

Susan Valdes was equally effusive. "You're an amazing leader," she said.

Tamara Shamburger, whose district includes some of Hillsborough's poorest neighborhoods and most challenging schools, said, "You're working really, really hard to turn every school around."

Less supportive was Melissa Snively, who cast the dissenting vote. She said Eakins was too reactive and that, as a mother of four students, she still sees too many problems with bullying and crowded buses.

Safety, she said, will be compromised even more with busing cutbacks that will take effect this fall for middle and high school.

She wanted to give Eakins just a one-year extension.

Despite the kind words offered by other board members, several warned that the district faces daunting challenges.

Eakins, in his first weeks on the job, learned the district was spending down its reserves so quickly that its credit rating was suffering. His staff found ways to slash spending.

But with new population growth, the district faces more than $1 billion in construction needs on top of another $1 billion in debt, and nearly $1 billion more in deferred maintenance, mostly roofs and air conditioners.

To save money, some board members are suggesting the district renegotiate a pay plan adopted during Elia's administration that gives most teachers a $4,000 raise every three years.

"I hope our employees understand that there are some very, very tough decisions that are coming as a result of all the things that we have found over the last two years," said board member April Griffin.

And there's concern that the district doesn't communicate effectively, making district schools less competitive than they could be among the growing charter school sector.

"Competition should inspire us to do our best," Snively said.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 226-3356 or msokol@tampabay.com. Follow @marlenesokol.

In other news

The Hillsborough School Board approved a rezoning plan that ends the busing of many North Tampa elementary children to New Tampa, merges Cahoon Elementary with Van Buren Middle, and resets boundaries in more than a dozen schools. Changes take effect in August 2018.

The board also named these principals: Denise Savino, Lennard High; Stacy Arena, Davidsen Middle; Pablo Gallego, Pierce Middle.

Hillsborough school superintendent turns down raise, gets three-year contract 05/16/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91

    Obituaries

    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  2. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years

    Nation

    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  3. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike

    Accidents

    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.

  4. No bond for suspect in Kissimmee officers' fatal shooting

    Crime

    KISSIMMEE — A suspect in the fatal shooting of two police officers in Florida will be staying in jail after a judge denied him bond Sunday, saying there was probable cause for his first-degree murder charge

    Officers Matthew Baxter, left, and Sam Howard, right, who were both shot and killed in Kissimmee, Florida, on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. [Kissimmee Police]
  5. Tampa police arrest 22-year-old man in July murder

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police arrested Sunday a 22-year-old man who detectives said shot and killed a Tampa man after an argument.

    Tampa police arrested Dejonta Felder, 22, in the murder of 32-year-old Julius R. Carter. [Tampa Police Department]