A consultant's report on finances in the Hillsborough County (Fla.) School District says the school system is neglecting upkeep of its buildings, wasting money by failing to use modern technology for payroll and purchasing, and making inefficient use of its school buses.
The Tampa Bay Times says the 229-page document by the Gibson Consulting Group asserts that the improvements it recommends could save the district nearly $49 million a year in operating costs.
The study found the biggest problems in facilities. It says that most school buildings in Hillsborough County are in poor shape and the district will need to spend more than $100 million a year to keep them from getting worse.
The average school building in the district is about 49 years old, and half are more than 50 years old, the report says. The district has an estimated $794 million backlog in deferred maintenance and capital projects. Just maintaining the current substandard conditions would cost $111 million a year.
The consultants also found that school officials were dissatisfied with the district's maintenance department. One example given was "a year and a half to get light bulbs replaced."
The study recommends hiring specific blue-collar workers instead of the current classification of multitrade workers, who might be asked to work on carpentry, plumbing, water lines, electrical wiring, drywall, roofing and other tasks.
- The district has more employees per student than other comparably large districts, and wastes resources by using manual paper time sheets for employees, and handling vendor bids via mail instead of online.
- Hillsborough County could save millions in transportation costs by phasing out busing for students who live within two miles of a school, ending the practice of letting some drivers park their buses at home, and adjusting daily schedules so each driver had three routes.
Gibson Consulting Group was paid $818,000 for the study,