Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Students gone, not teachers

Times staff writers

As parents scrambled to adjust child care around Wednesday's early release day for Hillsborough County schools, the thought must have crossed more than a few minds: What really happens when students leave? Do teachers really make good use of the monthly, two-hour planning time that the union negotiated into their contract this fall? Or are they skipping out of classrooms to go shopping? The St. Petersburg Times checked Wednesday in random visits to 10 of the more than 200 schools in Hillsborough, and found faculty parking spaces remained mostly occupied long after students had gone. For a snapshot of what teachers were up to, see story, 6B.

Bloomingdale High School

The echoes of a cheer routine rippled throughout empty halls at the Valrico high school. Elsewhere, principal Mark West said, teachers were using the extra time to stay on top of grades, due out soon, and make appointments for parent conferences.

"This time is geared for teachers to do what they need to do to keep on task," he said.

Chamberlain High

Principal Jeff Boldt and a half-dozen teachers gathered, facing an Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test chart, talking quietly about ways to help students. Down the hall, biology teacher Michael Zanatian took advantage of a quiet to administer makeup tests, finish grading and string some holiday tinsel. Then the tennis coach had a 6:30 p.m. team meeting. Late nights and weekend work are common, he said.

Greco Middle School

A hour past the early 2:15 p.m. dismissal, geometry teacher Laurie Baumann sat in her Temple Terrace classroom, calling parents on her personal cell phone.

The first-year teacher and assistant track coach said the two hours offered a chance to contact hard-to-reach folks at work. She said also used the time to grade papers and meet with other teachers to coordinate testing.

"Early out days are always nice," she said. "Any time I can do work at work instead of bringing it home, it's great."

Seventy-six cars occupied the parking area. Principal Judith DeVore Rainone said only two of the 75 instructional staff members took the afternoon off, one for a funeral.

Jefferson High School

The Jefferson staff parking lot was nearly full. "It's just a regular day for us," said social studies teacher Johnny Balkmon.

Teachers are required to stay until almost three hours after school lets out, said special education teacher Angela Pinder-West. And most have plenty to do. "We have meetings with the department heads, talk about problems we're having, how we can change things," she said.

"It's mostly just trying to get caught up," Balkmon said. "Cause there's a lot to catch up on."

King High School

Early dismissal came at 12:40 p.m. By 1:15 p.m., most of the 1,875 kids had gone, but 139 cars remained in faculty parking.

"They're using it for what's intended," said assistant principal Yinka Alege. "We don't want it to be abused."

Martinez Middle School

Vehicles filled all but seven of the 32 staff parking spots. The Lutz school's principal, Shaylia McRae-Hall, was in a parent conference and unavailable.

Monroe Middle School

An hour after the children were gone, most of the teachers were either in their classrooms or meeting in groups to discuss coursework, said Monroe's acting principal, Ross Boyd.

Sessums Elementary

Even with students gone, the office at this Riverview elementary bustled. Teachers and staffers flowed in and out. Cars filled the faculty parking lot. Behind a closed door, principal Winnie McCandless sat down to what the receptionist said would be a long parent conference.

Sickles High School

Principal Jake Russell didn't know the precise number of teachers who were in their classrooms planning, and declined to answer a reporter's questions. But an hour after the Citrus Park school released students, 71 of the 131 spaces in the faculty parking lot were still filled with cars.

Twin Lakes Elementary

Kindergarten teacher Lotus Eckstein reviewed her student assessment binder, regrouping students by ability. She fired off three letters to parents. All within the first hour.

Not that she was counting. After leaving, she planned to visit a book fair to buy material for her class library — with her own money. And to shop for pancake mix and punch for a class pajama party in honor of the letter "P."

"A teacher never has too much planning time," she said. "It's not a job that you can just leave."

This report was compiled by staff writers Rebecca Catalanello, Letitia Stein, Rodney Thrash, Emily Nipps and Chandra Broadwater.

Students gone, not teachers 12/11/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 18, 2008 2:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs

    Winner of the week 1: 'Liquor wall’ proponents. Gov. Rick Scott’s veto of a bill to allow Walmart, Target and other big box stores to sell liquor was a victory for an array of groups, from smaller merchants and Publix (which has stand-alone booze shops near its stores) to those who feel the hard stuff …

  2. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  3. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  4. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  5. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.