TAMPA — If 2008 was the year for belt-tightening in Hillsborough County schools, 2009 may require cutting an extra hole in those belts and preparing to tighten some more. • While mass teacher layoffs have been averted by around $150 million in federal stimulus funds, officials say teachers and staff may need to take unpaid furloughs this spring to fill a $12 million budget shortfall. • There will be other, subtler changes facing students on the first day of school Aug. 25, as the district looks for cost savings. Art classes will meet less frequently. And the poorly attended Thanksgiving week will become a holiday, with classes made up on Oct. 30 and Feb. 15, as long as the teachers union and School Board agree.
Tom Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3400.
Gym classes in middle school: Thanks to a new law passed by the Legislature last spring, every student in grades 6-8 will be required to take at least one semester of physical education per year.
More teacher planning time: Negotiators with the school district and teachers union tentatively agreed to add five early-release days to the calendar, subject to ratification by union members and the School Board.
Exams after the holidays: High schoolers may need to keep their books open over the winter holidays. Due to the late start of the school year, semester exams won't be given until January. In approving the school calendar, board members also agreed to make Good Friday a regular school day on April 2.
Focus on bullying: All school principals got training this summer in a new district policy designed to prevent bullying. Expect early efforts to focus on awareness, with a new district Web site for anonymous reporting.