Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

From buses and exams to urinals, Hillsborough students seek School Board's answers

TAMPA — The questions Tuesday from Hillsborough County student leaders covered a wide range of topics, from exam exemptions to life skills training to waterless urinals.

The answers from School Board members generally boiled down to this: Get out and vote. Vote for a Legislature that won't withhold funds to build and maintain schools, making it impossible to renovate aging King High School.

And, from member Susan Valdes: Watch the debate in Congress about whether insurers should cover contraception for women. "Think about that," she said, after stating emphatically that abstinence is best. "That is taking women back a long time."

Valdes' remark, coming in response to a question from Armwood High School's Ashlee Townsend about child care for teen mothers, was one of the more politically pointed in an exchange that focused mostly on day-to-day student concerns.

The student forum is a yearly ritual for the Hillsborough school district. Kids fire questions at board members, who applaud them for their intelligence and then answer the best they can.

This group wanted to know why they are hit with so many different exams in their senior year. Several wanted time to study, or tour college campuses, or learn life skills before leaving school.

Christina Aviles from the Waters Career Center wanted to know why homeschooled kids can participate in extracurricular activities in their neighborhood schools while career center students cannot.

Good question, Valdes said.

Leto High's Nicole Jones wanted to know how to increase parent involvement. "We've asked that question every single year," said member Carol Kurdell.

Several asked about transportation. Jamar Crew of Brandon High said kids sometimes have to ride three to a seat. "Shouldn't the safety of our students be most important?" he asked. Others suggested HARTline give free passes so kids could stay after school for activities.

There were comments about Empowering Effective Teachers, the Gates-funded initiative that has teachers submitting to peer evaluations. Students wondered: Shouldn't they, too, be allowed to perform evaluations?

Member Doretha Edgecomb acknowledged that not enough people are versed in the Gates project. She invited students and their parents to attend an informational meeting 7 p.m. today at Robinson High School.

Several board members implored the teens to register and vote if they want to see public schools get the funding they need and if they want districts to have more autonomy. Case in point: High school semester exams had to be scheduled after the winter break because the state does not allow school to begin until late August.

"Unfortunately, the Legislature was lobbied very heavily by the tourist industry, because you are their workers," Kurdell said.

Valdes responded favorably to a suggestion from Strawberry Crest High School that foreign languages be taught in the elementary years.

And member Jack Lamb agreed the time has come for more waterless urinals.

"You're right," he told Daniel Troya of Jefferson High School. "They save a considerable amount of money and, thinking about the environment, water."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at or (813) 226-3356.

From buses and exams to urinals, Hillsborough students seek School Board's answers 02/22/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 7:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote


    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to


    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter


    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.