According to the 2020 U.S. Census report, 18% of the overall population in Hillsborough County, Florida is Black or African-American, but while opportunities for minority communities in Florida continue to open up, parental choice in education is being compromised in Hillsborough. School choice is at risk.
The recent decision by the Hillsborough County School Board to vote to deny the applications of two charter schools, and deny the renewal contracts of four other charter schools that are situated in predominantly Black communities, limit the education choices for minority parents, who like other parents, are looking out for their children’s best interest.
But according to Board member Nadia Combs, parents don’t necessarily know what is best for their children, and she and the school board do.
“I think it’s really important when we talk about, we talk about family,” said Combs at the most recent school board meeting. “I think its really important that we have to inform parents about what’s going on. Sometimes parents don’t know what’s best for their child.”
School board members are denying the charter school contract renewals because of the financial problems the school district is enduring, saying that money sent to help fund charter schools should be going to the overall public school budget and not directly to the schools.
“For every single charter school that opens, that takes away $7,600 away from our general fund budget,” stated Board Member Jessica Vaughn.” If you look at our budget last year, $250,000,000 bypassed our budget to go to charter schools.”
Not all school board members agreed with the decision to deny the contracts. Melissa Snively submitted a motion to rescind the aforementioned votes, saying, ”It is our responsibility to follow statute.”
“It's our responsibility to follow statute, that is what we're elected to do,” said Snively, adding, “sometimes we don't support necessarily statute but in that case, that's our obligation to lobby and advocate for what we believe in or run for the legislative office.”
Her motion failed.
Regardless of whether the reason for denying the contracts fiscal or even ideological, in the end, it’s the minority communities that will suffer.