Cash-Strapped Hillsborough School Board Denies Charter School Contracts due to Money Woes

Cash-Strapped Hillsborough School Board Denies Charter School Contracts due to Money Woes

School board will have to answer for their move to refuse to renew charter school contracts

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
June 24, 2021

On June 15, the Hillsborough County School Board voted to deny contract renewals of four minority-driven public charter schools and deny proposals from two others, a move that has local parents up in arms over the board moving to limit school choice and redirect dollars from the school budget.

In Florida, public school funding – for the most part - follows the students.  The Hillsborough board, led by Chairwoman Lynn Gray and fellow board members Nadia Combs and Jessica Vaughn, have gone on record blaming the growth of charter schools and the impact on enrollment in district schools for their financial troubles.

In desperate need of cash, and because they are so cash-strapped, some school board members want to make sure that every last penny goes to district coffers and not other public school entities. Chairwoman Gray said that she has always been against charter schools. At this meeting several members voted with her, citing lost education revenue for the decision.

Mrs. Vaughn echoed similar fiscal concerns and a desire to keep funds in the district's annual budget.

“Absolutely! For every single charter school that opens, that takes away $7,600 away from our general fund budget,” stated Vaughn.” If you look at our budget last year, $250,000,000 bypassed our budget to go to charter schools.  According to a 2019-2020 Hillsborough Charter School Report, the board collected $3,373,458 in Administrative fees from the charter schools they approved. Charter schools received $193,821,689 Florida Education Finance Funding – the formula used by the state to fund K12 schools.

The money situation in Hillsborough County has gotten so bad that earlier this year, the board brought in Miami-Dade School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to teach them how to navigate a financial shortfall.

Gray says that parental choice is very important, but that the public school district couldn’t compete with the “slick brochures” that charter schools are said to mail out to parents in order to persuade them into enrolling their children with them. Combs also said that she believed that "sometimes parents don’t know what’s best for their child” when it comes to education.

Vaughn also took the liberty to express her concerns over the “crusade to privative education,” saying that charter schools are being propped up by individuals and groups that support school choice.

“My concerns are that these schools are coming in under the guise of school choice, but … really are just on a crusade to privatize education, and so I ran on the platform of being very concerned about charter schools and the privatizing of education here in Florida,” said Vaughn.

“Denying charter school contracts in order to force parents to choose a district school is not the answer,” said Lynn Norman-Teck, executive director of the Florida Charter School Alliance, a non-profit support and advocacy organization. “The growth of school choice is parent-driven. Board members should not punish parents or students who choose a charter school, virtual programs, private school or homeschooling.”

An estimated 30,000 students attend charter schools in Hillsborough in 2020-2021.

Some 2,000+ of those students, their teachers, and parents could be affected if this final decision is seen through. The charter schools in question are Kids Community College High, Pivot, SouthShore, and Woodmont charter schools.

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of,,, and He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at

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