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Richard Corcoran again blasts Hillsborough schools spending

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Richard Corcoran isn’t backing down from his criticism of local school districts as they continue to face wreduced funding from Tallahassee.

In a Sunday Tampa Bay Times column, Joe Henderson took a shot at the House Speaker over the lack of air conditioning in many Hillsborough schools.

Henderson describes how the school district has received more than a hundred million dollars less from the Legislature over the past seven years for maintenance on school buildings. And while he doesn’t reference Corcoran’s ‘schools of hope’ charter school plan which was included in the controversial omnibus education bill called HB 7069, others public school advocates certainly have in accusing Tallahassee of favoring charters over public schools in recent years.

“Fun fact: Hillsborough schools receive $145 million less from the state funds for routine maintenance than seven years ago. Thank your Legislature for that,” Henderson writes. So, what to do — besides inviting Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran to spend a few days in a classroom where the temperature reaches the mid-80s or higher? Corcoran, remember, is Tallahassee’s No. 1 fan of charter schools and if you want to point a finger dripping with perspiration at the No. 1 culprit in this caper, he’s your guy.”

The Speaker pleads innocent.

“I’ve said this a thousand times. The problem isn’t 7069. 7069 is the most pro-parent, pro-teacher, pro-student bill in the history of the state,” Corcoran said on Friday while attending a news conference at a Brandon Honda dealership with Gov. Rick Scott.

“It says we’re going to put all our energy and all our money on focusing on things that we know ensure that those children get a world-class education. The issues they’re having about air conditioning are about management. The issues they’re having about whether they can turn on an air conditioner, while they’re building $100 million Taj Mahals and pointing to a bill that’s about building beautiful minds, is the height of hypocrisy.”

All though the School Board isn’t building any $100 million “Taj Mahals,” Corcoran has previously alluded to the more than $336,000 being spent on renovations to their boardroom auditorium, which has outraged some parents.

This isn’t the first time that Corcoran has taken a shot at the Hillsborough County School Board while defending the Legislature’s funding priorities.

In June, Corcoran told the Tampa Bay Times that it was the district’s fiscal mismanagement that has led to their financial problems.

When asked to comment, Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson Grayson Kamm directed FloridaPolitics.com to the district’s website, which says that the district is hoping to resolve every issue with air-conditioning issues within 48 hours, and if takes longer, “our staff can bring in rental cooling units or move students to cooler areas.”

The page also refers to the Legislature’s reduction in allocating Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds over the years.

“Our district and our families continue to press lawmakers to return these funds to repair our school buildings, which have an average age of more than 49 years,” reads the site.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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