More tutoring for free available

Published August 15, 2006

TAMPA - Students in some Hillsborough County schools that failed to meet federal standards will have additional opportunities this year to receive free tutoring.

Florida education officials said Monday that the U.S. Education Department has selected the Hillsborough school district to participate in a pilot program to expand tutoring services under the No Child Left Behind Act. Previously, only private tutors could get the funding available locally under the law.

High-poverty schools that fail to show sufficient learning gains among students for three years in a row must offer tutoring services, paid for out of federal dollars sent to the district to help poorer schools.

Now Hillsborough can provide tutoring, too.

"We're interested in serving students," said Jeffrey Eakins, Hillsborough's director of federal programs. "The district is not interested in a profit."

He said about 40,000 Hillsborough students qualify for No Child tutoring. They attend schools that failed to meet federal standards and qualify for free or reduced lunch. But the $7-million to $8-million available for tutoring isn't enough to provide private services to all, Eakins said.

Hillsborough school officials hope to reach more by providing the services more cheaply, since it won't face the same overhead costs for classrooms. The county joins school districts in Chicago, Boston, Memphis and Anchorage, Alaska, in the pilot program.

Eakins said Hillsborough wants to work as partners with private tutoring companies, which are holding fairs to market their programs to parents. For more information, visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.