Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County School Board looks at personal computer use

TAMPA — A teacher sends out personal photos to friends during lunch, and uses a district computer to do it. Was it a harmless work break, or a destructive use of public property?

Maybe a bit of both, members of the Hillsborough County School Board concluded Tuesday.

Some teachers and staff members are "clogging up the system" sending massive files of photos and other documents to friends, said Paula Romano, a district technology specialist.

Such messages hog limited bandwidth. And when a computer can't send a big file on the first try, it will automatically keep on trying, making it harder for other users to conduct official business, said specialist Cliff Granger.

Board members struggled to strike the right balance during a workshop on policies governing technology, student testing and other issues.

Chairwoman Carol Kurdell cautioned against crafting a policy on teacher use of computers that made the district a less employee-friendly place to work.

"We're a very humanistic organization," she said. "It's very important, because people spend a large part of their life here. I'd be walking a real fine line on this one."

Sending a single baby photo or making a quick call home might be reasonable, some suggested.

But other members said the district needed to do a better job of setting clear limits for employees.

"We can't be touchy-feely and emphatic at the same time," said Doretha Edgecomb. "The system is being abused."

The board asked administrators to keep working on the issue, and to find a reasonable middle ground on the personal use of public resources.

By this fall, the district plans to issue a revised policy manual covering every aspect of running a 190,000-student school system. That provided board members with fertile ground for debate.

In the student assessment section, Jennifer Faliero was prompted to complain about "so many tests" and the potential for duplication of efforts. But Candy Olson saw a gap, with no measure of students' broad range of learning styles.

Several members urged the district to put more of its back-to-school paperwork online. But Edgecomb warned against reducing the flow of information for families without Internet access.

"There has to be a real balance between the haves and have-nots," she said. "We just can't take for granted that even those in the past who had (online access) still have it."

Tom Marshall can be reached at or (813) 226-3400.

Hillsborough County School Board looks at personal computer use 04/28/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 12:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Water Hogs: During drought, hundreds of Tampa Bay homes guzzled a gallon of water a minute


    When Amalie Oil president Harry Barkett plunked down $6.75-million for his Bayshore Boulevard mansion, he picked up 12.5 bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, an elevator and a deck bigger than some one-bedroom apartments.

    During one of the worst droughts in the Tampa Bay region's history, hundreds of houses used more than a gallon of water a minute. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times

  2. PolitiFact Florida checks out Rick Baker's talking point about the growth of St. Petersburg's A-rated schools


    Rick Baker has used mailers, forums and social media to relay one big message in his campaign for St. Petersburg mayor: Schools in St. Petersburg saw drastic improvements when he was mayor from 2001 to 2010.

    Rick Baker, candidate for St. Petersburg mayor
  3. Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelly talks family, songwriting and more before Tampa show

    Music & Concerts

    A while back at the Grammys, Charles Kelley found himself in the same room as Paul McCartney. The Lady Antebellum singer, a seven-time Grammy winner in his own right, couldn't work up the courage to say hello.

    Lady Antebellum perform at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday. Credit: Eric Ray Davidson
  4. Clearwater suspect due in court after 9 die in sweltering San Antonio truck


    SAN ANTONIO — Nine people are dead and the death toll could rise after emergency crews pulled dozens of people from a sweltering tractor-trailer found parked outside a Walmart in the midsummer Texas heat, victims of what officials said was an immigrant-smuggling attempt gone wrong.

    San Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in San Antonio. [Associated Press]
  5. Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage


    ST. PETERSBURG — A draft report lays blame for the city's sewage crisis squarely on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman and a cascading series of errors that started with the now infamous shuttering of the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility in 2015.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]