A chart from the Hillsborough County district depicts the rapid decline in the system39s reserve fund from fiscal 2011 to 2015 Hillsborough County School District

A chart from the Hillsborough County district depicts the rapid decline in the system's reserve fund from fiscal 2011 to 2015.

Reserve funds depleted in Florida district without board's knowledge

The Hillsborough County district discloses that its reserve fund has fallen to about $152 million, compared with $361 million 4 years ago.

The Hillsborough County (Fla.) School District has spent more than half its $360 million reserve fund in the past two years, and board members say it has taken place without their knowledge.

The Tampa Tribune reports that the reduced reserves threaten the district’s top bond rating and could lead to higher rates of interest when the school system borrows money.

To rebuild the fund, administrators are instituting cost-cutting measures, such as reducing travel and challenging principals to scrutinize spending more closely.

Hillsborough's fund balance had sat at $360 million since about five years ago. But when Superintendent Jeff Eakins, who became acting superintendent in March and  assumed the job permanently on July 1, began to familiarize himself with the budget,he found out that the reserve fund was only about $152 million.

Some board members placed blame for the situation with former superintendent MaryEllen Elia, who was fired in January amid criticism of her communication with the board and leadership style. Elia has since been hired as commissioner of education for the state of New York.

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