Hillsborough County approves athletic trainers at high schools

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The Hillsborough County school board unanimously approved a contract with Advent Health and PT Solutions Holding LLC to supply certified athletic trainers year-round to all 28 public high schools during last week’s meeting.

Initially, the contract was on the agenda at the school board’s budget meeting two weeks ago but was withdrawn, partly because it was not ready to be presented. 

By supplying athletic trainers, Hillsborough County addresses part of the safety measures superintendent Addison Davis announced this summer as part of a nearly $1 million settlement the school board reached with the family of Hezekiah B. Walters, the Middleton player who collapsed and died after going through conditioning drills in June of 2019. 

Last year, Hillsborough County hired certified trainers through three organizations. The funds needed to provide them at the time was $270,000, which amounted to $10,000 per school.

The financial commitment fell well short of what was provided in neighboring counties. Pinellas County spent about $360,000 to have athletic trainers at its 16 public schools this past year. Pasco County spent $330,000 for 13 schools. 

Money, or lack thereof, was due in part to two organizations, the University of South Florida SMART Institute and Physical Therapy Select, deciding to no longer provide athletic trainers in Hillsborough County.. 

That shortfall left the county potentially having trainers at just six of 28 schools entering fall practices. 

The approved contract calls for spending $420,000, which equals to $15,000 per school (Sumner High opens this fall). That is a significant step up financially from what was provided last year. 

PT Solutions already has a contract with Pasco County to provide trainers at its 13 public schools.