Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Marlene Sokol

Marlene Sokol

Marlene Sokol has worked at the Times as a reporter, editor and columnist since 1988. After launching North of Tampa in 1996, she served first as its editor and later as a general assignment reporter specializing in the suburbs. She now covers education in Hillsborough County.

The things School Board candidates say…. on the campaign trail in Hillsborough (Part I)

The things School Board candidates say…. on the campaign trail in Hillsborough (Part I)

They bashed the superintendent. They fretted about charter schools. One said the Hillsborough County School District should act like a carpet cleaning business when it comes to hiring teachers. Another blamed gender for the School Board's...
Updated: 3 hours ago
School Board Chairwoman Sally Harris in 2015 tweeted this photo of Seminole Heights, West University, Town & Country Charter High School's  Commencement Program

Critics of charter schools point to low graduation rates

The League of Women Voters is protesting the 10-year renewal of Seminole Heights Charter High School's contract on grounds that the organization spends nearly $200,000 in tax money to produce one high school graduate…But do...
Published: 07/16/18
Karen Clay has filed an ethics complaint against School Board members Lynn Gray and Melissa Snively.

Ethics complaint against Hillsborough School Board members

NOTE: This post has been revised.A disability rights advocate in Tampa has filed a state ethics complaint against Hillsborough County School Board member Lynn Gray, based on reports that appeared in recent months in the La...
Published: 07/13/18
Updated: 07/16/18
Students make their way onto a basketball court for recess at Kid's Community College, one of more than 50 charter schools in Hillsborough County. Three more charter schools will join the system in 2018, pushing the number of students to almost 25,000 -- more than 10 percent of the district's enrollment. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

Hillsborough headed for a new mark: 25,000 charter school students

TAMPA — Three more charter schools will join the Hillsborough County system this year, pushing the number of students in these tax-funded, but privately operated institutions to well over 10 percent of the enrollment.District officials predict...
Published: 07/13/18
Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes campaigns for reelection in 2016, when she won with the help of $12,000 in donations from from individuals and businesses affiliated with charter schools. This year, as she runs for a House seat, she vowed not to take charter money after her opponent raised the issue. [Times (2016)]

In Hillsborough, charter school money becomes an issue in House race

TAMPA — With her first campaign for state office barely off the ground, Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes faces an organized effort by opponents of the charter school movement to keep her out of Tallahassee.
Updated one month ago
Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins transfered 18 principals on Thursday, mostly in response to 2018 school grades released by the state the day before. He said he was getting a jump on state officials, who, he argued, would have pressed him to make the transfers anyway. The move, however, did not sit well with some School Board members. [Times (2015)]

State grades push Hillsborough into an unexpected wave of principal transfers

TAMPA — Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins appointed 18 principals on Tuesday, so many and with so little notice for some that two members of the School Board tried to delay their approval.Eakins said he had little choice after this week’s...
Updated one month ago
Wynne Tye was assistant superintendent for educational access, opportunity and alternatives. She is now the district's Director of Non-Traditional Programs. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]

Despite job cuts, two Hillsborough school officials stay on at top pay

TAMPA — As it shrinks its workforce by close to 2,000 jobs to save money, the Hillsborough County School District is keeping two high-earning administrators whose positions were to be eliminated at the end of June.Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes,...
Updated one month ago
Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  TIMES]

Hillsborough school officials tout spending cuts as they prepare for a tight budget year

TAMPA — Superintendent Jeff Eakins spent Tuesday morning making a case to the Hillsborough County School Board that his team has cut enough expenses to put the district on a short path to financial health.One more round of staffing adjustments...
Updated one month ago
Jessica Hessler, left, principal of McDonald Elementary School, and Jennifer Watson, right, fifth-grade teacher, interview Gabriela Seipp, center, during the Showcase of Achievement Schools last week at the Hillsborough County Instructional Services Center. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]

Next step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic.
Updated one month ago
Candidates for Hillsborough School Board at a Tiger Bay forum: Stacy Hahn, Sally Harris, Scott Hottenstein, Robert Pechacek,Bill Person, Mitchell Smithey, Kelso Tanner. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]

On the campaign trail: For Hillsborough County School Board

These are the candidates who qualified Friday for the Hillsborough County School Board elections in August and November 2018.District 1, northwest Hillsborough and Town 'N Country:This is a special election to...
Updated one month ago