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2018-2019 Back to School with New Initiatives and a Push to Climb Even Higher

July 13, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tanya Arja
Office of Communications

Tampa, Fla. – (July 13, 2018) – More than 200,000 Hillsborough County Public Schools students will head back to class on Friday, August 10, ready to begin another amazing year of learning and leading. Teachers and staff return to school on Thursday, August 2.

After a year where Hillsborough County Public Schools set an all-time graduation rate record for our district and ranked as a top-rated large school district in the nation, there are many new plans and initiatives and many exciting things happening for the 2018-2019 school year that we are eager to share.

Our district’s Communications team understands reporters will have many story ideas as the new year approaches and we will work to support your needs, however please note, as the 8th largest district in the country, we receive a flood of requests each year.

To help with your needs, we have planned many opportunities for stories focused on topics that are of interest to journalists, our families, staff and the community at large. See below and please plan to attend the media availabilities that interest you. Note: These are the only days and times when we can guarantee these individuals will be available on these topics. (For example, Jim Beekman will be available to discuss seatbelts on buses on 7/17. If reporters have another transportation story, please contact Tanya Arja to advise her of the story and plan to interview Jim Beekman during the seatbelt availability).

Media availability:
Monday, July 16, 12:30 p.m. – Security
Maintenance West - 5002 N. Lois Avenue, Tampa

  • Chief of Security John Newman available for interviews
  • Video opportunity involving defensive tactics training for school security officers
  • New officers available for interviews
  • Through our partnership with law enforcement, an officer or deputy will be on every school campus on the first day of school until all of our school security officers are hired and they undergo training by the Sheriff’s Office

Tuesday, July 17, 11 a.m. – Seatbelts on Buses
Transportation Department - 9455 Harney Rd., Thonotosassa

  • General Manager of Transportation Jim Beekman available for interviews
  • All Hillsborough Schools buses are now equipped with seatbelts
  • Video opportunity on a bus
  • We also need assistance from parents to encourage their children to wear seat belts

Wednesday, July 18, 10 a.m. – Air Conditioning
Williams Middle Magnet School – 5020 N. 47th St., Tampa

  • Deputy Superintendent Chris Farkas available for interviews
  • Ten schools have undergone full air conditioning replacements or major repairs this summer
  • Video opportunity showing a crew involved in a full HVAC replacement
  • We still have nearly 40 schools that need air conditioning replacement but Florida continually ranks among the lowest in education funding, so the district has had to make tough choices between A/C and classroom needs
  • All systems are currently working and are tested before the first day of school.
  • Repairs may be needed as the year goes on and our maintenance crews will be out when situations arise.

Wednesday, August 1, 11 a.m. – School Hardening
Barrington Middle School – 5925 Village Center Dr., Lithia

  • Deputy Superintendent Chris Farkas available for interviews
  • Video opportunity of a buzzer installation
  • We are adding buzzers outside the main office at schools that did not previously have one
  • We will not be able to go into detail of all security measures. However, we can discuss how security must be on everyone’s mind - students, staff, parents and visitors. We must change “habits,” including no longer holding doors open for others to enter a school

Thursday, August 2, 10 a.m. – School Security Officer training
Maintenance West - 5002 N. Lois Avenue, Tampa

  • Chief of Security John Newman available for interviews
  • Video Opportunity of Active Shooter simulation

Thursday, August 9, 6-9:30 a.m. – Practice Runs for Buses
(please contact Tanya Arja to schedule time and location)

  • General Manager of Transportation Jim Beekman may be available for interviews before or after route
  • Bus drivers will drive their routes during normal traffic conditions
  • Media is welcome to ride along and go live on buses during morning routes

Please note, the week of July 23-27, both Tanya Arja and Grayson Kamm will be unavailable, so interviews with any staff or representatives from Hillsborough County Public Schools will be very limited unless there is breaking news. We encourage you to contact our counterparts in our area’s other school districts for general school-related stories during that week.


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