Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Security is on the minds of Hillsborough students

TAMPA — The December shooting deaths at a Connecticut elementary school continue to weigh on the minds of students in Hillsborough County.

Throughout Tuesday's student forum, where high schoolers grill School Board members, several talked about safety concerns.

"At my school, any student can push open a door leading outside and anybody from the outside can come in," said Nathaniel Santana of the D.W. Waters Career Center.

Lindsey Backman of the Bowers-Whitley Center called for guards in uniform shirts, metal detectors, more fencing and maybe fingerprint scanning.

Kelsey Gemmil of Sickles High asked, "Will there be any type of training for teachers or guidance counselors to monitor student mental health more closely, starting at elementary school and throughout high school, in order to ensure our schools stay safe against gun violence?"

Board members assured their audience that, although a proposed $3.7 million-a-year security plan did not sail through last month, they are committed to tackling the issue thoughtfully.

A security consultant was hired. A workshop is planned in March. And last week, the board voted unanimously to tighten access at the least-protected schools.

"Safety and security are on all our minds, and it is the utmost for the board," member Carol Kurdell said.

Chairwoman April Griffin, who has argued for a holistic approach that includes character education, said "this is a discussion that needs to be a comprehensive discussion."

The question-and-answer session has been around for decades. Invariably there are questions about grades and school lunch. This year was no different.

Students wanted to know why they had to take final exams after winter break. They wanted to know why they risked losing exam exemptions if they took a day off to tour a college.

They questioned the district's decision to test out pay-for-play lacrosse at a small number of schools. They complained that the media centers are closed too often for testing.

"As I listen to your questions, it occurs to me that you are very plugged in and aware of some of the same concerns that we as board members are concerned about," said member Doretha Edgecomb.

Some questions were answered on the spot. Others will be handled in followup emails.

Member Candy Olson gave detailed explanations of state laws that affect exam exemptions and scheduling.

"The calendar you're now operating under was put in place when you went home and worked in the fields in the summer," she said. But these days, she added, the state frees up teen workers during tourist season.

Member Stacy White did his best to explain the lacrosse decision and urged those students interested in lacrosse to start club teams at their own schools.

Justin Zeger of Hillsborough High got a round of applause when he took a stab at the Empowering Effective Teachers evaluations. His teachers get weeks of notice before their peer observations, giving them ample time to prepare.

"The lessons that the peer evaluators get to receive are nothing like what we receive in the classroom," Zeger said.

Before explaining that the district has added spontaneous "drop-in" observations, superintendent MaryEllen Elia tested Zeger's vocabulary.

"How perspicacious of you," she told him.

Security is on the minds of Hillsborough students 02/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No touchdown, but fun lesson for Bucs' Adam Humphries


    It didn't end up being a touchdown, but one of the Bucs' biggest hustle plays in Thursday's win over Jacksonville saw receiver Adam Humphries scoop up a loose ball just before halftime, after what looked like an incompletion but was correctly ruled a Jameis Winston fumble.

    Bucs WR Adam Humphries runs to the end zone with QB Jameis Winston trailing -- his alert play wasn't a touchdown because teammates cannot advance a fumble in the final two minutes of a half.
  2. Bucs' Demar Dotson should be back from injury next week


    The Bucs got good news on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI showed only a mild right groin sprain and should be back at practice next week.

    Bucs tackle Demar Dotson, shown last year when he signed a three-year contract extension, should only miss a week of practice with his groin injury and can return healthy for the Bucs' season opener at Miami in three weeks. [Octavio Jones | Times]
  3. Comedy legend Jerry Lewis dead at 91


    LOS ANGELES — Jerry Lewis, the manic, rubber-faced showman who jumped and hollered to fame in a lucrative partnership with Dean Martin, settled down to become a self-conscious screen auteur and found an even greater following as the tireless, teary host of the annual muscular dystrophy telethons, has died. He was …

    In this Sept. 2, 1990, file photo, entertainer Jerry Lewis makes his opening remarks at the 25th Anniversary of the Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon fundraiser in Los Angeles. Lewis, the comedian whose fundraising telethons became as famous as his hit movies, has died according to his publicist. [Associated Press]
  4. Mastermind of lottery rigging scam that netted millions faces 25 years


    DES MOINES, Iowa — For a decade, computer programmer Eddie Tipton reliably showed up for work at the central Iowa office of the Multi-State Lottery Association and earned the confidence of his co-workers, a team of technicians entrusted to build computers used to randomly pick numbers for some of the most popular …

    FILE - In this June 29, 2017, file photo, Eddie Tipton, the former Multi-State Lottery Association information security director who admitted to masterminding a scheme to rig lottery games that paid him and others $2 million from seven fixed jackpots in five states, is seen in court in Des Moines, Iowa. Tipton is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday, Aug. 22. (Rodney White/The Des Moines Register via AP, File) IADES501
  5. Pasco County man killed in wrong-way crash on New Jersey Turnpike


    MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Authorities say a Florida man driving the wrong way on the New Jersey Turnpike was killed when his SUV crashed head-on into another vehicle.