Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough school superintendent says district is addressing challenges of swine flu and bullying

TAMPA — It's all about communication, whether it's about tomorrow's homework assignment, a bad flu going around, or kids fighting after school.

That was the theme Friday as Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia held her annual back-to-school news conference to usher in the new school year. Classes begin Tuesday in the 189,000-student district.

Elia had plenty of upbeat news to report: six new schools opening, new computer software to link schools and families, and 1,100 well-rehearsed school bus drivers who are ready to roll.

But two big problems from the last school year — the swine flu pandemic and a series of alleged locker room rapes at Walker Middle School — were also on Elia's agenda. There, too, communication has become the new byword.

Many students will likely catch the H1N1 virus due to the extent of its spread into the community, officials said earlier this week, warning of the possibility of 30 percent absence rates next month. "We do not anticipate closing schools for the swine flu," Elia said. "We also will not be sending home letters when a student has the flu."

On the bullying prevention front, Elia talked about new training for teachers and staff members, and cited a new Web site that will allow anonymous reporting of incidents.

"We're doing everything we can to encourage students to step forward," she said. "We want to get it where it begins, where students are initially having difficulties with each other."

Families in many schools can use new Edline software to check for students' grades and assignments. But the district will still send notes home the old-fashioned way via backpacks and back pockets for those without computers, Elia said.

And newly arrived military families can visit a page of their own on the district's Web site, where they'll find contact numbers and help getting settled.

"We have staff members assigned to give them personal service," she said. "It's the least we can do."

For information Tuesday's first day of school in Hillsborough County, visit the district's Web site at

Hillsborough school superintendent says district is addressing challenges of swine flu and bullying 08/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 22, 2009 2:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump associate Roger Stone to talk to House panel in Russia probe


    WASHINGTON — The House intelligence panel will interview two of President Donald Trump's associates behind closed doors this week as congressional committees step up their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Roger Stone talks to reporters outside a courtroom in New York this past March. The House intelligence panel will interview Stone behind closed doors Tuesday as congressional committees step up their investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Fformer Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn also will talk to the House panel. [Associated Press]
  2. Pinellas commission set to discuss next budget, licensing board

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission will be busy on Tuesday.

  3. Romano: Sure, let's trust a board with no professionalism, transparency or ethics

    Local Government

    So, if you've been following the bureaucratic carnage:

  4. St. Petersburg mayor's debate: Rick vs. Rick 2.0 starts tonight


    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker are getting back together.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker (left) is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman in St. Petersburg's mayoral election. These photos were taken during the July 25 televised debate. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. Pinellas County embarks on $19-million project to pull muck out of Lake Seminole


    SEMINOLE — Environmental experts, always concerned about the water quality of Lake Seminole, are assessing how much Hurricane Irma may have stirred up the nearly 1 million cubic yards of muck that lay on the bottom.

    Despite the expenditure of more than $30 million over nearly two decades, improved water quality in Lake Seminole remains elusive. The muck that lines the bottom of the 684-acre freshwater lake keeps accumulating while the cost to remove it keeps rising. Having exhausted less drastic methods for restoring the lake, the county is about to embark on a six-year dredging project expected to cost $18.6 million. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times