Skip Navigation

School Board

HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

901 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, met for the annual Student Forum Tuesday, January

30, 2018, at 2 p.m., in the School Board Auditorium, 901 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, with Superintendent Jeff Eakins, and Board Members Lynn Gray, Sally Harris, Tamara Shamburger, MelissaSnively, Cindy Stuart, and Susan Valdes present. Chair Sally Harris presided.

Absent: April Griffin

Others present:

Deputy Superintendent: Van Ayres

Assistant Superintendents/Division Chiefs:

Academic Support and Federal Programs: Tracye Brown

Business Services: Gretchen Saunders

Educational Access, Opportunities &Alternatives: Wynne Tye

Educational Leadership and Professional Development: Tricia McManus

Human Resources: Marie Whelan Interim

Operations: Chris Farkas

Teaching and Learning: Deborah Cook

Department Manager, Media: Tanya Arja

Superintendent’s Secretary (Recording): Lori Woods

News Media Representatives:

Tampa Bay Times: Marlene Sokol

Approximately 185 people were in the audience, including other school district personnel.

Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 2 p.m.

Everyone on the dais introduced themselves.

MaryLou Whaley – Director, Outreach & School Improvement, publically recognized Thaddeus Bullard – aka WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil

Moment of Silence and Pledge of Allegiance: Moment of silence followed by Vice Chair Shamburger leading the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States.

Chair Harris gave a brief overview of the student forum that began over 30 years ago. It was thevision of former School Board member, Cecile Waterman Essrig. Mrs. Essrig passed away on June 29, 2012.Shewas the first woman elected to a major political office in Hillsborough County and served on the School Board for 21 years.

MichelleFitzgerald,Area 5 Superintendent, outlined the procedures for the forum and recognized Mrs. Fitzgerald shared the following:   82.9% graduation rate, HCPS students have increased their reading skills, 5,411 industry certifications and lower suspension rates.  Mrs.Fitzgerald asked that all district level personnel and principals stand and be recognized.

Alonso High School
Veronica Diaz
James Sanchez
Madison Mullins

Armwood High School
Jhonathon Quest
Kelviyana Walker
Samantha Palacios

Blake High School Vrianna Romero Madison Potantus Vrianna Romero

Bloomingdale High School
Alexis Cole
Ethan Fisher
Lyann Rate

Bowers/Whitley Career Center
Malik Martin
Yolanda Walker
Jessica Carmer

Brandon High School
Allison Dodd
Alex Williams
Brittany LeGrande

Chamberlain High School
Selena Williams 
Hakeen Ricketts 
Paul Ferlita

Durant High School
Alexia  Nyiri
Jared Geiger
athrina Jean

East Bay High School
Chase Spencer
ntonio Parks
avannah Schleich

Freedom High School
Aries (AJ) Taylor
Catherine Weng
Joseph Izquierdo

Gaither High School
Gia Reyes
Jackson Lindsey
Tane’ A Valery

Hillsborough High School
Lazlo Nziga
Emily Quin
Jessica Suarez

Jefferson High School
Taylor Hanna
Adriana Diaz
Tykeem McCord

King High School
Josh Keding
Justice Thompson
Viviana Cao

Lennard High School
Zakiya Grier
iel Caraballo
ylan Radley

Leto High School
Maria Fleitas
Giovany Giron
Leah Velez

Middleton High School
Urooj Hudda
Isabella Cox
Tijae McPherson

Newsome High School
Paige Carter
enya Smith
Jacob Phelps

Plant High School
Jack Schifino
Hunter Owens
Lena Diastri

Plant City High School
Laura Treche
MacKenzie Steele
Tyreke Harrison

Riverview High School
Nicholas Filipek
Andres Prieto
Jake Massena

Robinson High School
Lane Johansen
Nolan Raybon
Hana Yankowitz

Sickles High School
Jasmeen Randhawa
Yarilyn Lacagnina
Tucker Simkins

Simmons Career Center
Ezekiel Dorsaint
Brandon Ramudit
John Siller

South County Career Center
Reishaliz Reyes Melo
Sariel Reyes Melo

Spoto High School
Sol Hernandez
Logan Witt
Doris Aybar

Steinbrenner High School
Kaleb Williams
Savannah Chapman
Mia Delbrocco

Strawberry Crest High School
Ryan Karczewski
Marianne Ibarra
Alexis Powell

Tampa Bay Technical High School
Cierra Celerin
Mawlanda Takeli
Darley Desormo

D.W. Waters Career Center
Tessa Crandall
Kamara Edwards

Wharton High School
Tahj Francois
Rachel Hineline
Frank Godbold

Citizen Advisory Committee
Noel Lyons (Gaither)
Brooke Shapiro (Plant



Round One Student Questions:

Alonso (Veronica Diaz) There has been a huge amount of press coverage related to the financial instability of the District. Can you provide assurances to the students that we are moving in a more positive direction to stabilize District finances and be able to compensate the District’s employees more fairly?

Armwood (Jhonathon Quest) We understand that the school day will be shorter beginning next school year. With teachers already teaching bell-to-bell in order to meet curriculum requirements, are there any plans to help support our teachers with curriculum and the shorter class times?Comments made by Mrs. Gray.

Blake (Vrianna Romero) How will the County be helping the students of Hillsborough County adjust to the new schedule for the 2018 - 2019 school year? Comments made by Mrs. Snively.

Bloomingdale (Alexis Cole) How can we improve internet connection with school Wi-Fi for educational purposes such as NEARPOD and KAHOOT reviews?

Bowers/Whitley (Jamera Alexander) Will the District consider buying or providing city bus passes for the Career students who do not have transportation to get to their career site?

Brandon (Allison Dodd) There is significant concern regarding the amount of testing students endure during high school and it is believed that standardized testing should not determine success in school. Has this School Board communicated with the State legislature with regard to reducing testing for students? If not, do you plan on doing this in the future and what will your message be? Comments made by Chair Harris and Mrs. Gray.

Chamberlain (Selena Williams) Hillsborough County is one of the largest School Districts in the United States. Being one of the biggest School Districts, does this put us at any advantage or disadvantages? How canyou resolve the disadvantages? Comments made by Mrs. Snively.

Durant (Alexia Nyiri)Has witnessing students protest on behalf of teachers alarmed county officials or does it demonstrate the quality of teachers in this area that students feel compelled to speak up?

East Bay (Taylor Ford) With the South Shore area expanding so quickly and a much needed high school set to open, what factors are considered in setting boundaries and will students who were affected by the last boundary change be considered for another boundary change?

Freedom (Aries (AJ) Taylor) With so many kids having limited access to computers, why does the State mandate students to complete a virtual course for a standard 24-credit diploma? Comments made by Chair Harris.

Gaither (Gia Reyes) Regarding the plans to implement a newly revised bell schedule for the 2018 - 2019 school year, how great of an impact do you foresee this change in schedule to have on "before and after school” programs, such as HOST?

Hillsborough (Emily Quin) What can the county do to improve the integration of ESE students, while maintaining their safety?

Jefferson (Adriana Diaz) Students in the AVID program are exposed to intense focus in the college and scholarship process, as well as standardized test prep, service learning and so much more that would benefit any and all students in high school. Is the District considering adding a similar elective that would be open to all students?

King (Vanessa Dominguez) If withdrawing students who do not care about school is not an option, what can be done with students who do not really want to be there and are causing disruptions to the learning environment?

Lennard (Zakiya Grier)What improvements can the School District consider to ensure the safety of all students on campuses where there is not a buzzer system installed or fully gated secured access?

Leto (Maria Fleitas) What are 2 – 3 needs that must be priorities for our District to address? Why do you see these as needs? What is being done to address these needs? Comments made by Vice Chair Shamburger, Mrs. Snively and Mrs. Valdes.

Middleton (Urooj Hudda) Why can’t seniors who are on track to graduate be permitted to have half day schedules and allowed to leave school early to go to jobs and other commitments? Comments made by Mrs. Stuart.

Newsome (Paige Carter) Why can’t seniors exempt exams in the first semester if they are in good standing, in regards to grades, attendance, and discipline? Which may also help to boost attendance rates across the District.

Plant (Lena Diasti) How can Hillsborough County implement Unity Day, which encourages social awareness in schools, to become District-wide?

Plant City (Tyreke Harrison) With the inability to effectively manage the fiscal responsibilities of the District, how will the School Board expect to retain highly qualified teachers and staff?

Riverview (Andres Prieto) How can we improve the transportation for magnet school programs?

Robinson (Lane Johansen) Research shows that diversity in learning environments improves outcomes. Many schools in the District are diversified (culturally, economically, and racially) but many are not. Is diversity a priority for the District? If yes, what is your plan for creating diversity in all school? Comments made by Mrs. Valdes.

Sickles (Jasmeen Randhawa) How can faculty and staff better ensure that no weapons or harmful substances are brought to school without invading the privacy of students? How can District policies support these efforts?

Simmons Career Center (John Siller) Why are Career Center students not permitted to play sports if they have the expected GPA, conduct, and grades?

South County Career Center (Reishaliz Reyes Melo) Can students take the EOC at any time?

Spoto (Logan Witt) I am a member of our NJROTC. I realize that the Navy provides funding for much of our program. We also do multiple fundraisers through our booster clubs. However, with all the events we participate in and the expense of State competitions, I was wondering if the District has any funds available to help support ROTC programs.

Steinbrenner (Kaleb Williams) Seniors are exempt from semester exams if they miss 5 days or less. As an incentive to improve attendance, is there a possibility that this could be applied to the first semester as well?

Strawberry Crest (Ryan Karczewski) In our school District, there are many schools that are overcrowded like Strawberry Crest, but there are other schools mostly elementary and middle, that are severely under-crowded. Why don’t you combine the under-crowded schools and sell off the school and land and use that money to pay our outstanding teachers a fair wage, or use the money to fix the older schools that are deteriorating?

Tampa Bay Tech (Cierra Celerin) One of the main goals of high school is to prepare a student for higher education, be that college or a technical institute or certification program. However, students are often left feeling overwhelmed and confused about their options for that next step. Has the District ever thought about instituting a post-secondary college and/or technical skills program vendor fair where high school juniors from across the District could go to gain a better understanding of the options available to them after graduation?

D. W. Waters Career (Kamara Edwards) How do we improve school and á la carte food at a small school like D. W. Waters Career Center?Comments made by Mrs. Valdes.

Wharton (Tahj Francois) Why is the Board planning on adjusting school boundaries for schools that are over capacity, when there are schools much below capacity? In addition, there are some schools where students must travel great distances which causes additional student and parent stress in order to be able to participate in extra-curricular activities. The inability to participate in extra-curricular activities may decrease students’ opportunities for college admissions.

Citizens Advisory Committee (Brooke Shapiro (Plant)) Our county has focused much of its attention on graduation rates,and yet we lack Guidance resources. At Plant, we have a single college and career counselor for our entire 2400 student body. What measures are being taken to provide more resources to students who need assistance in determining what they need to graduate, as well as their post- graduation plans?

Board comments by Mrs. Gray, Vice Chair Shamburger, Mrs. Snively, Chair Harris, Mrs. Valdes, Superintendent Eakins and Mrs. Stuart.


Round Two Student Questions:

Alonso (James Sanchez) As technology emerges as a critical element of the modern workforce, how does HCPS plan on adapting curriculum and available services in order to give their students a competitive edge after graduation? More specifically, how can HCPS further utilize and teach technology as well as provide students with the devices and lessons necessary for success?

Armwood (Kelviyana Walker)As a Collegiate Academy student, I have found the TELP after-school program very beneficial at Armwood High school. I know schools have programs like ELP, which they use in different ways. How can the District implement systems with the same consistent characteristics (such as late access we are able to stay through 6 p.m., subject-specific tutoring, flexible use if you have after-school activities) at all our high schools in order for all the students to benefit?

Blake (Madison Potantus) In our classrooms, the temperature fluctuates. Sometimes it’s too hot,sometimes it’s too cold. We were informed that our school A/C system is controlled and set by the District.We would like to know why each school cannot control their own system.

Bloomingdale (Ethan Fisher) How can we change bus stop locations on major roads, such as 301, for schools like Bloomingdale?

Bowers/Whitley (Yolanda Walker) Will the District ever reconsider allowing regular soft drinks products back into the students’ vending machines?

Brandon (Alex Williams) CTE programs have helped many students prepare for life and careers during their high school. Although these programs are very beneficial, I don’t believe they get enough credit.What can this School Board do to promote CTE so that more students see the value, take the classes, and join related student organizations?

Chamberlain (Hakeem Ricketts) How do you distinguish the resources you provide to our inner city schools vs our suburban/rural schools? Comments made by Vice Chair Shamburger.

Durant (Jared Geiger)What methods are used toevaluate how the school is running and what measures are taken to improve school policies each year?

East Bay (Antonio Parks) To prepare students for the demands of the 21st Century, how does the School Board intend to prepare all students for the challenges we face? Comments made by Mrs. Snively.

Freedom (Catherine Weng) With the heavy reliance on standardized testing for grades and college acceptance, how can the students emphasize in other parts of education?

Gaither (Jackson Lindsey) Given the fact that far too many businesses out there say we are not ready for the world. What other real-world applications/courses would you consider incorporating into our District high school curriculum to better prepare those students who are not college-bound, and would rather focus on a particular trade and/or work with their hands?; to better prepare others for college-level courses,as most courses only have two-three grades per semester?; and to better prepare all of us for "life after high school? Comments made by Mrs. Snively.

Hillsborough (Lazlo Nziga) What policies can be implemented to prevent the presence of weapons on campus?

Jefferson (Taylor Hanna) Even though the School District is dealing with budget cuts, what is the District planning to do to help students in Career and Technical programs earn more industry certifications and have higher job placement rates directly after graduations from HCPS?

King (Viviana Cao) King is one of the oldest schools in the county. When is the next restoration/updates cheduled for King (and other older schools)?

Lennard (Ariel Caraballo) Where do you see our School District to be in four years from now? Comments made by Chair Harris.

Leto (Giovany Giron) According to a December 2016 report by the Huffington Post, there have been more than 200 school shootings since the Sandy Hook Elementary attack in December of 2012. That is an average of one shooting per week, on school or college campuses. What is being done to ensure that our students, faculty, and staff are prepared to handle these situations, should the threat of violence arise?  How can schools better prepare for such a crisis?

Middleton (Isabella Cox)With the new schedule changes, high school students will now be on the roads during peak traffic times. Have you figured out a way to combat a potential increase in car accidents?Comments made by Mrs. Snively.

Newsome (Kenya Smith)All my Math classes since middle school have been taught solely through the Springboard Math books. The problem with teaching solely through Springboard books is that there are not examples to look at, everything is discovery. Are there plans to purchase textbooks for Math classes? Math teachers cannot be expected to pay for these costly textbooks out of their own pockets. Has the School Board considered budgeting Math textbooks to effectively complement the Springboard supplements? Comments made by Mrs. Valdes.

Plant (Jack Schifino) How is granting an exam exemption to a student who calls in sick, and may or may not be sick, equivalent to granting an exemption to someone who is requesting an excused absence for a religious holiday? Comments made by Mrs. Valdes.

Plant City (MacKenzie Steele) Are there any plans to scale down testing so that it doesn’t impact classroom instruction time so frequently? Is there any consideration to using the SAT/ACT in lieu of the FSA?

Riverview (Nicholas Filipek)Can a school sell old equipment to purchase new equipment?

Robinson (Hana Yankowitz) According to the Hillsborough County School District website, there were plans to create an "organized comprehensive recycling program” to be implemented District-wide in 2010. As of January 2018, there is no county-wide program. Is the District still planning to create such a recycling program, and if so, when would it be implemented?

Sickles (Yarilyn Lacagnina) When determining the budget, how does the School Board ensure that students are the top priority?

Simmons Career Center (Brandon Ramudit) What changes is the School Board making to ensure future contract agreements are agreed upon and carried out? Comments made by Mrs. Valdes.

South County Career Center (Reishaliz Reyes Melo)Can students take the SAT at school and can transportation be provided to take the SAT? Comments made by Mrs. Valdes and Mr. Ayres.

Spoto (Doris Aybar) I am a member of SGA and would like to know if the School Board has ever considered meeting with student representatives of high school SGA’s to discuss issues we see at our schools, specifically as it relates to supporting students with their emotional and social well-being?

Steinbrenner (Mia Delbrocco) For graduation, why is class rank determined at the end of fall semester rather than during the middle or end of the Spring semester?

Strawberry Crest (Alexis Powell)I am seriously considering being part of the School Board in my future. Do you all feel that I should major in education in order to be better prepared to make the quality decisions needed for that job?  Since most of you did not major in education, do you feel that is a "pro” or "con” for doing the job you do?  Comments made by Mrs. Valdes, Mrs. Snively and Vice Chair Shamburger.

Tampa Bay Tech (Mawlanda Takeli) Other school districts in Florida such as Orange County have moved to utilizing technology as part of their learning experience at themiddle and high school levels by providing students with laptop computers for their use at school and home. Will Hillsborough County be moving in this direction anytime soon?

D. W. Waters Career (Tessa Crandall) If we have all of the end of course exams by the state at the end of the school year, why can’t we move the District exams to the end of the school year, eliminating mid- term exams?

Wharton (Rachel Hineline) Are there any reasons why high schools currently do not have school uniforms? What would be the process to implement uniforms in a high school? Comments made by Mrs. Stuart.

Citizens Advisory Committee (Noel Lyons (Gaither)) Are there any possible resolutions being deliberated concerning the loss students face when their teachers take random leaves of absences? How can we ensure our students are getting the best education possible by getting a new teacher in the classroom quicker? Especially for the classes that have a Mandatory passing grade on an EOC.

Board Comments by Chair Harris, Mrs. Stuart, Mrs. Valdes, Mrs. Snively, Vice Chair Shamburger, Superintendent Eakins and Mr. Ayres.


Round Three Student Questions:

Alonso (Madison Mullins) Looking around our classrooms, it seems that there are an excessive amount

of textbooks. The old ones have been used for a long and by the time new textbooks reach students’ desk the information is often already outdated. It would seem the physical burden could be replaced by digital resources available on multiple platforms. Has the District considered limiting the number of physical (perhaps 50 copies per class to leave respect to those with limited technology access), with individual licenses to the digital version? Comments made by Chair Harris

Gaither  ( T ane’ A V ale r y)  As students, we only hear your names and are unable to match names with faces. As a community, we only hear the negative reports regarding inabilities to problem-solve. I for one would like to see you drop into a school unannounced to visit a classroom, watch a lab in progress, observe the long lunch line, and see the over-worked secretaries and teachers. Stand outside with us in the heat or in the rain while we wait for double-run bus drivers. How do you, as the leaders of our School District and community, strive to connect with every student and family in our School District? Comments made by Chair Harris.

Adjournment – with no further discussion the student forum was adjourned at 3:54 p.m. Audio recording on file.

HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

Search for School
Find a School
School Locator

Locate your attendance area school

School Locator