School districts across Florida, including ours in Hillsborough County, have been faced with increased expenses to meet the safety, academic and mental health needs of students amid the pandemic. Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Board of Directors sent the letter below to Governor Ron DeSantis, key legislators and other top state officials requesting districts receive immediate access to available federal emergency relief funds to help cover extensive, ongoing, unbudgeted requirements associated with COVID-19.
HEF’s mission is to strengthen public education in Hillsborough County through advocacy, investment of resources and programs that empower every student to achieve both academic and personal success.
Governor Ron DeSantis
State of Florida
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
March 5, 2021
Dear Governor DeSantis:
Hillsborough Education Foundation’s mission is to strengthen public education in Hillsborough County. Given the pandemic-related expenses our school district and the 66 other Florida school districts have faced, we are extremely concerned about our most vulnerable students falling further behind without financial resources being prioritized for our K-12 public schools.
Although the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES I) Act and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds (ESSER I) have assisted districts in addressing urgent COVID-19 needs, it is not enough to cover extensive, ongoing, unbudgeted requirements associated with the pandemic. Our district has faced unprecedented costs to support things such as remote learning and provide schools and staff with masks, sanitizer, bottled water and cleaning supplies to ensure healthy learning and working environments.
A second round of much-needed federal emergency aid—the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations ACT of 2021 (CRRSA)—was signed into law by the President in December, but school districts across the state are still awaiting access to this vital funding. We encourage you to disburse these federal funds immediately as intended by Congress to provide emergency relief to Hillsborough County Public Schools to meet the safety, academic and mental health needs of our students.
Our students can’t wait. Many continue to struggle with the impacts of COVID-19 and have suffered drastic learning losses that our schools must address – but they need help to do so. It is the state’s responsibility to ensure all children in Florida have access and equity of opportunity to benefit from a high-quality public education. In addition to providing immediate access to available federal emergency funds, we ask that our elected officials fully fund educational strategies and programs to meet the growing needs of students—especially our most vulnerable children.
Hillsborough Education Foundation is built on supporting public education and raises on average $7 million annually to provide resources for teachers and our highest needs students to bridge funding gaps and help build equity. If we want to ensure a bright future for our students and sustainable, prosperous community for all of us—it starts with investing in public education today.
On behalf of the Board,
Royce Reed, Board Chair
Kim Jowell, CEO
Senate President Wilton Simpson
House Speaker Chris Sprowls
Senator Doug Broxon, Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Chair
Representative Randy Fine, PreK-12 Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chair
Commissioner Richard Corcoran, Florida Department of Education
Senator Jim Boyd
Senator Danny Burgess
Senator Janet Cruz
Senator Darryl Rouson
Representative Mike Beltran
Representative Fentrice Driskell
Representative Dianne Hart
Representative Traci Koster
Representative Andrew Learned
Representative Lawrence McClure
Representative Michele Rayner
Representative Jackie Toledo