The Hillsborough county public school board members smile at the camera

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) announces Hillsborough County Schools as the winner of the 2019 Award for Urban School Board Excellence. The district will receive the honor during the CUBE Annual Conference on Sept. 27 in Miami, Florida.

Created in 2004, the Award for Urban School Board Excellence recognizes school boards that exhibit excellence in school board governance, academic improvement, educational equity and community engagement.

“It is an honor to recognize the district leadership of Hillsborough County for its progress in improving the educational outcomes of students,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director and CEO. “Hillsborough provides an impressive example of the impact that school leaders can and must have to ensure access to quality educational opportunities and academic achievement for urban students.”

Hillsborough County School District, which includes the city of Tampa, is the eighth-largest school district in America, serving nearly 218,000 students and overseeing a $2.9 billion budget. Hillsborough County’s Achievement School initiative is a five-year strategic plan to identify and support the district’s 50 highest-need schools. The implementation of that system-wide racial equity plan contributed greatly to the board’s academic improvement and educational equity efforts.

From the 2013-14 to the 2017-18 school year, Hillsborough County’s graduation rate for African-American students grew by 19.5%, almost 20% for economically disadvantaged students and 26% each for English language learners and students with disabilities. Also showing increases are the percentage of students in dual enrollment courses and the percentage of students receiving a score of three or above on Advancement Placement tests.

The board also has established partnerships with local businesses to help students in low socioeconomic areas and successfully gained community support to approve a new sales tax initiative on the 2018 ballot. The first in the district’s history, the additional half-cent sales tax will allow the district to complete 1,700 school projects over the next decade.

In addition, all current members of the Hillsborough County School Board are enrolled in the rigorous Master Board Program offered by the Florida School Boards Association. The certification program offers in-depth training in curriculum, with elements such as perspective-taking, emotional intelligence and district culture.

As winner of the Award for Urban School Board Excellence, Hillsborough is included as a feature story in Urban Advocate, CUBE’s quarterly feature in the American School Board Journal (ASBJ) and will be highlighted at future CUBE Conferences.

Learn more about CUBE.

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