Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nearly one in five Hillsborough public school students extended their holiday

TAMPA — Automated phone calls and frantic Facebook posts could go only so far in getting kids back to school Monday in Hillsborough County.

At day's end, the school district estimated attendance at 82.3 percent. Nearly one in five students were not in their seats.

"Everybody likes an extra day off," said district spokesman Steve Hegarty, who also checked the attendance rate for the first day back to school in 2011. It was 90.7 percent.

The School Board agreed to the Jan. 2 return date at a calendar meeting last March.

In doing so, members were trying to balance several factors, including their desire to close schools for the entire week of Thanksgiving, which saves money on utilities; and a state law that doesn't allow the fall term to begin until two weeks before Labor Day.

Board member Stacy White warned that Jan. 2 — a day of post-holiday travel and college football — might be too early.

He was overruled, with member Carol Kurdell remarking that kids should get the message: "You need to be in school."

White repeated his misgivings in December, after the day was declared a holiday for many government and financial institutions. By comparison, Pinellas County students go back to school today and Pasco County resumes classes Jan. 10.

The Hillsborough district sent reminders Sunday by Twitter, email and the ParentLink phone system. Adding to the district's concerns, Hegarty said, was an erroneous closing reported in the Tampa Tribune, which was later corrected. District employees spread the word on their personal Facebook pages as well.

On a normal day not following a long weekend or vacation, Hegarty said, attendance hovers between 94 and 95 percent.

But today holds little guarantee, he said, as "it's going to be cold outside."

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

Nearly one in five Hillsborough public school students extended their holiday 01/02/12 [Last modified: Monday, January 2, 2012 6:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas County receives $30 million for beach renourishment

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– While Pinellas beaches continually rank among the best in America, they need help to stay that way.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $30 million to help with beach renourishment at several Pinellas locations, including including Sand Key, Treasure Island and Upham Beach. This photo from 2014 shows how waves from high tides caused beach erosion at Sunset Beach near Mansions by the Sea condominium complex SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  2. Straz Center parking squeeze infuriates patrons, motivates search for solutions


    TAMPA — When the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened 30 years ago, it welcomed just 30,000 patrons its first year.

    Fireworks shoot into the sky over the David A. Straz Jr. Center For The Performing Arts. [SCOTT MCINTYRE, Times]
  3. Video shows naked man who stole swan sculpture in Lakeland, deputies say


    The Polk County Sheriff's Office is searching for a naked man who stole a large black and white swan sculpture from a Lakeland storage facility last weekend.

    The Polk County Sheriff's Office says this naked man stole a large black and white swan sculpture, upper right, from a Lakeland storage facility last weekend. Surveillance video showed the man walking into Lakeland Cold Storage. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Fennelly: Dirk Koetter's apology no way to keep this fidget spinning


    TAMPA — It all began with a fidget spinner.

    This tweet from the Bucs, mocking the Falcons' 28-3 lead they lost in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, prompted a public apology from head coach Dirk Koetter, who called it "unprofessional and not smart."
  5. Jeb money trickles into Putnam's bid for governor


    Money from a Jeb Bush super PAC has made its way into Florida’s 2018 governors race.
    A year ago, Bush’s Right to Rise PAC put $1,171 in money