Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough students take the mike at School Board forum

Marquasha Pate, representing Simmons Career Center in Plant City, asks a question to Hillsborough School Board members Tuesday during the annual student forum.

SKIP O’ROURKE | Times

Marquasha Pate, representing Simmons Career Center in Plant City, asks a question to Hillsborough School Board members Tuesday during the annual student forum.

TAMPA — They used to ask more questions about lunch.

Now high school kids at Hillsborough County's yearly School Board student forum ask about Common Core, the next generation of state exams and how schools calculate their grade point average.

"I'm always amazed at the level of new questions that we get," said Chairwoman Carol Kurdell, wondering for a moment if cafeteria food is that much better.

"That's what the world is about. Ask the hard questions. Ask why. Ask why not."

The forum is a tradition that originated with Cecile Essrig, the first woman elected to the School Board, who died in 2012.

Moving alphabetically from one school to the next, students fire questions at board members, who answer some on the spot and deliver the rest in writing.

There are generally some questions based on news events, such as the death on Feb. 7 of 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III after he was ejected from the Florida State Fair on a day when most schools were closed and students had free tickets.

East Bay High School's Meagan Kopstad asked if the district should end Fair Day and instead close school on Presidents Day.

Member Candy Olson took that question, reminding her audience that "the child who was killed did not attend a Hillsborough County public school, and he was killed, of course, after school would have been out."

Olson also pointed out that, since other school districts close on Presidents Day, the fair could wind up even more crowded.

There were questions about outdated computers and software in the schools. "I feel like with how quickly technology changes, it's important for us to be cutting edge," said Alondra Medina of Steinbrenner High School.

Colin Brennan, also of Steinbrenner, asked if his school can hold graduations at Legends Field. No, he was told; there is too much risk of heat or rain.

Kailey Fernandez of Robinson High School raised an issue board member April Griffin discussed at a workshop earlier in the day: the need for more counselors. Fernandez said Robinson has one guidance counselor per 500 students and one college and career counselor per 1,500 students.

"So many kids need guidance about their future and careers," she said.

Board members encouraged the students to register and vote. More than that, they said, it is important to contact state lawmakers, who take many of these decisions out of their hands.

And, as invariably happens, a student asked why school starts so early when science shows teenagers are barely awake.

Answered Griffin: "Unfortunately, what drives that is what drives all of you to school, or some of you to school, and that's the bus schedule."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or sokol@tampabay.com.

Hillsborough students take the mike at School Board forum 02/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida education news: Makeup days, accountability, charter schools and more

    Blogs

    MAKEUP DAYS: The Pasco County school district alters the daily schedule of 11 schools to make up teaching time missed because of Hurricane Irma, avoiding the …

    With students back in school after Hurricane Irma, schools across Florida begin scheduling makeup days for missed classroom time.
  2. How visiting a scenic Cuban resort can help save green sea turtles

    Wildlife

    The Florida Aquarium has been collaborating with Cuba's National Aquarium since 2015 to help save coral dying throughout Caribbean waters.

    The beaches of Cuba's Cayo Largo are home to a large population of green sea turtle nests. The Florida Aquarium will lead eco-tours of Cayo Largo next year that will help protect the turtles and fund research.  [Avalon Outdoor]
  3. Photo of the Day for September 22, 2017 - Willets taking flight

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Dan Cleary of Madeira Beach, FL.

  4. Why a true freshman quarterback doesn't kill FSU's title hopes

    College

    Florida State's James Blackman will make history Saturday when the No. 12 Seminoles host North Carolina State in their first game after Hurricane Irma.

    Florida State quarterback James Blackman warms up before a game against Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Atlanta. When Florida State's Deandre Francois, Georgia's Jacob Eason and Texas A&M's Nick Starkel all got hurt in their respective season openers, true freshmen ended up taking over the rest of the way.  (Joe Rondone/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)
  5. Puerto Rico could face months without electricity after Hurricane Maria (w/video)

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — The eye of Hurricane Maria was nearing the Turks and Caicos early Friday as Puerto Rico sought to recover from the storm's devastation.

    A pregnant woman carries empty plastic bottles to collect water a day after the impact of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Thursday, September 21, 2017. As of Thursday evening, Maria was moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 120 mph (195 kph). The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. [Associated Press]