Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Education

State fair, Hillsborough schools have lucrative relationship

TAMPA — The relationship between the Hillsborough County school district and the Florida State Fair Authority, tested this year by problems at the end of a student fair day, is one with a lot of zeros at the end.

Between scholarships and prizes, exhibit space and discounts, the relationship is worth $1.5 million a year to the district, according to a letter to officials who have been rethinking the annual student day at the fair.

Discussions began after unruly behavior on a Friday evening in February led law enforcement officials to eject close to 100 fairgoers. One, a 14-year-old private school student, was later killed by a passing car on Interstate 4.

Despite years of problems on fair day, when many public schools are closed and students get free admission, neither superintendent MaryEllen Elia nor the School Board expressed any intent to end the practice after the Feb. 7 incident.

Some board members said the fair provides opportunities for agriculture students, and for others to learn about agriculture.

While it's hard to put a price on those benefits, the letter from fair authority executive director Charles Pesano does just that.

"On an annual basis the Authority commits over $1.5 million to support its fair and nonfair agricultural and educational programs," he wrote.

The contributions he listed include:

• Nearly $400,000 in prizes, scholarships, savings bonds and cash.

• $277,000 awarded to Champion of Champion winners in livestock contests.

• $125,000 to promote educational activities, scholarships and grants raised in a golf tournament.

• $50,000 of exhibit space donated for Hillsborough schools during the fair.

• Discounts and free space for math league competitions, choice program expos and other district events, including high school graduations.

Money flows the other way too, according to fair records.

Midway revenues were the highest for any weekday during the Hillsborough student days, at $598,736 this year and $973,148 in 2013.

Addressing the issue of fair safety at a recent board meeting, Elia said progress has been made in meetings with fair officials and law enforcement.

"Everyone is rethinking how they work with the fair and how that can support the fair being successful as a community and family event," Elia said.

A plan described in Pesano's letter addresses the behavior problems on several fronts.

Students who arrive after 6 p.m. will have to be accompanied by adults 21 or older, who will be allowed to enter free.

Students using free passes will have to show school-issued photo identification, day or night. Younger children who do not have photo ID cards will get alternative forms of identification.

Changes will be made to the layout of the fair grounds to make it easier to identify certain areas and to discourage crowds from congregating in large areas.

There will be planning and public awareness campaigns involving school leaders, law enforcement and community organizations including Pastors on Patrol and the NAACP.

Students who are on suspension will not get the free passes.

Some area county school districts have fair days on weekends, said John Prestianni, the authority's finance director.

But to the best of his knowledge, no such arrangement has been considered for Hillsborough, as the district is large and, given its location, generates far more traffic.

"We're already very crowded on the weekends," he said.

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or [email protected]

Comments
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18
School board races attract new faces

School board races attract new faces

TAMPA — When long-time Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes resigned this month from the board to run for the State House of Representatives, the decision affected more than just her seat in west Hillsborough’s District 1.It also coul...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/17/18
Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

Hillsborough schools tax referendum is unlikely for November

TAMPA — Money that the Hillsborough County School District needs to build schools and replace air conditioners might be farther from reach, thanks to a new state law and a bureaucratic process required before the voters can decide on a tax referendum...
Published: 06/14/18
University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

University of Chicago eliminates SAT/ACT requirement

The University of Chicago will no longer require ACT or SAT scores from U.S. students, sending a jolt through elite institutions of higher education as it becomes the first top-10 research university to join the test-optional movement.Numerous school...
Published: 06/14/18
Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

Unhappy with superintendent’s budget wish list, Hernando School Board shuts down talk of tax increase

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano presented to the School Board Tuesday nearly $53 million worth of budget priorities, asking them to choose which will be funded in the upcoming school year.The board voted 3-2 later Tue...
Published: 06/13/18
UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

UT shines the spotlight on visiting authors

The University of Tampa’s MFA program will host the June 2018 Residency Visiting Writers Lectores Series that runs from now until June 21 on the ninth floor of the Vaughn Center, 401 W Kennedy Blvd. Each reading will be held at 7:30 p.m.Each January ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18
Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

Hernando School Board fires Superintendent Lori Romano after member says she ‘lost the public trust’

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County schools Superintendent Lori Romano will step down at the end of this month following a 3-2 vote by the School Board to terminate its contract with her amid increasing concerns about her ability to lead.Romano has suffere...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18
Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

Pasco summit aims to merge school cultures while making students feel included

NEW PORT RICHEY — The dozen Fivay High school students and their administrators arrived at the Pasco County school district’s annual Together We Stand conference with a clear goal in mind.With hundreds of former Ridgewood High students arriving in th...
Published: 06/12/18
Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

Central’s air rifle team prepares for national competition

BROOKSVILLE — Historic Camp Perry is where it’s at. Located near Clinton, Ohio, the National Guard training facility is where the nation’s top shooters go to compete.Next week, some of Hernando County’s top shooters compete there in the Civilian Mark...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/14/18