What would the first day of school be without at least a few numbers and a little math? We've compiled some vital statistics from the four Tampa Bay area districts — Hernando and Pasco start classes today, Hillsborough and Pinellas on Tuesday — and added them up to offer a little lesson on the resources needed to educate young minds. Here's a sampling of what's happening as the 2009-10 academic year kicks off:
Early release: Students get out an hour earlier every Wednesday. (Some exceptions. Check your school.)
Merged schools: Coachman Fundamental + Kennedy Middle = Clearwater Fundamental Middle; Southside Fundamental Middle + Madeira Beach Middle + Madeira Beach Elementary = Madeira Beach Fundamental, the district's first K-8 school.
Teacher contract: Impasse on salary portion.
No more opting out: Thanks to the swine flu, students with perfect attendance won't get out of taking exams this year. The district suspended the perk to discourage sick students from showing up anyway.
New schools: Five open Tuesday. Bailey Elementary and Strawberry Crest High, both in Plant City; Steinbrenner High in Lutz; and Stowers Elementary and Barrington Middle, both in Lithia.
New schools: Anclote High in Holiday and Watergrass Elementary in Wesley Chapel.
Teacher contract: Negotiations continue over salary step increases.
New leadership: Displeased with superintendent Wayne Alexander, the School Board struck a deal for his early departure. Negotiations continued late last week. His contract ends in June.
Teacher contract: Still negotiating insurance costs; automatic step increases approved last year.
Tom Marshall, Ron Matus and Jeffrey S. Solochek contributed to this report.