Citizen Oversight Committee
Diverse representation from across Hillsborough County
The Citizen Oversight Committee will oversee the spending on school improvement projects that would be funded by the November 6 Education Referendum.
The committee, an impressive group with a longstanding commitment to the children and families of Hillsborough County, will review the spending, progress and completion of all spending related to the $131 million a year generated by the half-penny sales tax over the next decade to address essential district needs including air conditioning, aging roofs, classroom technology and safety and security improvements.
The six independent citizens are not affiliated with the district and cannot work on projects funded by the referendum.
Betty Castor, MEd - Chair
Former University of South Florida President and Florida Commissioner of Education
Ms. Betty Castor serves as Chair of the Citizen Oversight Committee after spending her entire career in public service and as a champion for all children. From her start as a teacher, Castor rose to serve as President of the University of South Florida and was twice elected Florida’s Commissioner of Education. Ms. Castor was the first woman elected to the Hillsborough County Commission and the Florida Cabinet. In the Florida Senate, she co-sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment and led bills to fund early childhood education. Ms. Castor lives in South Tampa.
Sheriff Chad Chronister - Vice Chair
Hillsborough County Sheriff and Longtime Child Protection Advocate
A community leader with a long record of protecting children and fiscal responsibility, Sheriff Chad Chronister is Vice Chair of the Citizen Oversight Committee. He oversees the $433 million budget of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office which includes two jails, other large-scale facilities, hundreds of vehicles, and thousands of employees. Sheriff Chronister has been closely involved in children’s causes for years; he has held significant leadership roles with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Metropolitan Ministries, and several other nonprofit groups. He lives in North Hillsborough County.
Retired Certified Public Accountant and Former Controller, Former Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Hillsborough Community College
Ms. Bonnie Carr developed and managed budgets in excess of $400 million as Controller and Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer for Hillsborough Community College. She has served as a financial manager on major projects in Tampa Bay and Chicago, including Chicago’s $1 billion Navy Pier expansion. In the community, she is a Board member and Chair of the Plant City Planning Board, Board member for Athena Society and the Plant City Boys and Girls Club, and member of the Plant City Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee. Ms. Carr lives in East Hillsborough County.
Earl Lennard, PhD
Former Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Earl Lennard served for nine years as Superintendent of Schools for Hillsborough County and retired after 41 years with the school district. He went on to serve as Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County from 2009 to 2013. He has also served as interim Executive Director of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, President of the Hillsborough County Fair, and adjunct professor at USF. A member of many charitable, professional, and chamber of commerce boards, Dr. Lennard has lived in Riverview for more than 50 years.
Ed Narain, MBA, JD
Former State Representative and Active Civic Leader
Mr. Edwin “Ed” Narain is a former state legislator, active community leader, and advocate for children’s causes. Currently a Director of External Affairs with AT&T, he has served as a leader with the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Head Start Policy Council, and Hillsborough County Community Action Board. During his time in the Florida House, Mr. Narain was recognized with awards from the Florida League of Cities, Florida Boys and Girls Clubs, and Florida Chamber of Commerce. A former USF Student Body President, he lives in West Tampa.
Jose Valiente, CPA
Certified Public Accountant and Past Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chair
A certified public accountant and consultant for more than 40 years, Mr. Jose Valiente has held numerous leadership roles in the business and civic communities. He has served terms as Chair or President of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, University of South Florida Latin Community Advisory Committee, Tampa Bay-Cuba Trade Commission of the World Trade Center of Tampa Bay, and Boy Scouts of America Gulf Ridge Council. Named Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.’s 2005 “Hispanic Man of the Year,” Mr. Valiente lives in Temple Terrace and has lived in Tampa Bay for more than 50 years.
Proud Principal in Hillsborough County Public Schools
Mr. Dave Brown has served Hillsborough County Public Schools for 28 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. During his tenure as principal, the schools he led were awarded a state grade of “A” five times. His current school, Strawberry Crest High School, has been named by the College Board as a National SpringBoard Demonstration School five times, and was also the first high school in the nation to be a National Demonstration School in SpringBoard Math. A Tampa native and product of Hillsborough County Public Schools, Mr. Brown lives in Brandon.