TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.
"We can't leave any stone unturned," Chief Operating Officer Chris Farkas told a School Board committee on Monday.
But there was little evidence of a fast cure to a problem that has been years, perhaps decades in the making....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins and his facilities chief appealed to parents Wednesday to be patient as the district works through chronic air conditioning problems — and to advocate for more state funding.
In a news conference that was equal parts apology and explanation, Eakins said the air systems are working at the majority of Hillsborough's 230 schools, with between 15 and 20 considered "high priority" at any one time....
Much of this is normal for the beginning of the school year, there's just a lot more of it -- and public places for people to vent.
Teachers and parents are complaining openly about problems with the air conditioners.
And, in suburbs including Westchase and FishHawk Ranch, traffic is piling up as 7,000 students adjust to live without seats on the school bus.
Some parents are using local businesses as drop-off and pick-up points -- and the businesses are not liking it....
Now that the Hillsborough County School Board has several committees, we'll give readers a heads-up when they schedule their meetings, which are open to the public.
A curriculum, or "teaching and learning" committee meets this Wednesday, Aug. 16, from 1 to 2 p.m. in room 223 of the district's downtown headquarters....
Student attendance for the first day in Hillsborough County was 196,822, a slight dip from last year's opening day count of 197,064.
Those numbers cover all students in preschool through 12th grade, including charter schools.
With the year beginning so early, district officials don't expect an accurate count just yet.
"It is not unexpected that our numbers are relatively flat with school starting on a Thursday," said Superintendent Jeff Eakins. "We will continue to monitor the enrollment numbers on Monday. We are a growing county and typically between the first and 5th day, we have an increase of about 10,000 students."...
It happens every year.
Kids get home late on the first day of school. Parents panic. They call the Hillsborough County School District. They can't get anyone on the phone. They complain to their school board members. The school board members berate the transportation managers. Everyone promises to do better. And then the following year, it happens again.
What's the solution?
District officials are trying to pre-empt those calls this year with a series of robo-calls and texts to parents, warning them that bus riders might arrive late on Thursday and one or two days after that....
As 200,000 Hillsborough children return to school on Thursday, an enthusiastic group of community leaders will be on hand to give some an extra dose of support.
Potter Elementary, at 3224 E Cayuga Street, will get a clap-in.
Clap-in events are organized around the nation, usually in schools where it is felt that students can benefit from demonstrations of public encouragement. They are often festive and uplifting events with the goal of getting students started with the most positive mindset possible. Children are fetted with music, high-fives, fist bumps and cheers. ...
Today: Hundreds of school buses hit area roads as Hillsborough, Pinellas practice for the real thing08/09/17K12
It's the annual ritual that signals summer vacation is pretty much over.
More than 1,000 school buses will be on Tampa Bay area roads Wednesday morning and afternoon in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties even though public school classes do not begin until Thursday.
At last count, Hillsborough has 973 buses on the road, not including spares, and Pinellas 450.
Here is some of what we are looking out for as Hillsborough students return to school on Aug. 10.
Easier library access: The district has teamed up with the Hillsborough public library system for an initiative called HAAL that makes it easier, using just the student number (otherwise known as the lunch number) to access books, ebooks, videos and other materials. With 37 schools on the state's lowest-300 reading levels list, the district is doing what it can to promote reading and this could be part of that equation....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins looked at his network of magnet programs, including their $8.7 million busing cost, and came to this conclusion: Let's do more of it.
Far from wanting to phase out magnets as the cash-strapped district labors to save money, he wants to see more specialty programs in the inner-city schools and a new generation in the far-flung suburbs....
Another bone to pick as Hillsborough County teachers return to school in the midst of union bargaining: Special education teachers are losing their IEP assistants.
Individualized Education Programs are those voluminous documents that govern special education. Prepared along with lengthy meetings between parents and school staff (sometimes lawyers too), they serve as road maps to make sure the schools are meeting the children's needs....
Another charter school competes in Hillsborough, with artificial turf, plenty of computers and a waiting list08/03/17K12
APOLLO BEACH — Waterset Charter School is not squeezed inside a shopping center or shoe-horned onto an odd lot. It has its own street, Knowledge Lane, at the end of a main road through the upscale Waterset suburb.
It is by all rights the community school. "We are so excited that this school is here," SouthShore Chamber of Commerce President Deb Adams told 47 teachers on Wednesday. "This is awesome. Awesome. Awesome."...
A lot has been said lately at School Board meetings and over social media about teacher supply budgets - so much that Hillsborough Superintendent Jeff Eakins wants to set the record straight.
To that end, he sent over this memo that went out to school leaders in May....
TAMPA — Jodi Pelletier, like a lot of teachers, is eager to return to school, but worried about money for supplies.
"I was told that the amount for my classroom is $50," the 12-year employee, told the Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday.
Virginia Goff is worried about her children, who will have to walk to school now that the district is phasing out transportation within two miles of schools....
The area's three largest school districts, each with its own set of fiscal issues, will give the public a first look at their 2017-18 budgets tonight in public hearings around Tampa Bay.
The Hillsborough County School Board will take a preliminary vote on a nearly $3 billion budget and a proposed property tax rate of $6.60 for every $1,000 of assessed, taxable value — down from last year's rate of $6.91....