Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay's public schools and colleges will be open Tuesday

With the threat of Tropical Storm Isaac past, public schools in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando plan to reopen today. Canceling school shouldn't mean having to hold a makeup day at the end of the year, since district calendars have some flexibility.

All four districts made the call on Sunday to close Monday, citing rapidly changing weather reports. Many — but not all — of the area's colleges and universities did the same.

"It was decided it would be best to err on the side of caution," said Melanie Marquez, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County School District.

School buses can't be on the road in winds above 35 mph, and the counties sometimes open public schools as storm shelters. In Hillsborough County, Greco Middle School, Middleton High School, Shields Middle School and Smith Middle School were used as shelters.

That makes the decision easier, said Stephen Hegarty, a district spokesman.

"We don't want to have some schools open and others closed," he said.

Lara Wade-Martinez, a spokeswoman for the University of South Florida, said the decision to close was a tough call, since Monday was the first day of classes. At one point, she said university officials thought to keep the Tampa campus open. But when Gov. Rick Scott urged people to stay off the bridges, it seemed safest to be cautious.

"It's been a little wild," she said of the myriad storm updates.

USF campuses will be open today.

Hillsborough Community College made the call to close early Monday morning. College officials had planned to stay open, but road closures and flooding became a concern.

"Once accessibility was really a concern, we made the decision to close," said Ashley Carl, a spokeswoman.

At St. Petersburg College, the decision to open Monday was made after the 5 p.m. weather update Sunday, when "it was clear that the storm was moving farther away," said Wilma Norton, a spokeswoman.

The college "took some heat" for staying open, Norton said. But college officials didn't want to interrupt class in the second week of school, if it could be avoided, she said.

In Hernando County, superintendent Bryan Blavatt said he wouldn't have canceled school if he knew how mild Monday's weather would be.

But the decision was based on the "best information" at the time, he said.

"We figured it would be better to err on the side of being too cautious rather than getting students caught in the storm.''

In Pasco, school officials said they wanted to give parents time to make care arrangements.

But the district likely could have opened Monday, given the mild weather, said spokeswoman Summer Robertson.

Still, she said, "Better safe than sorry.''

Staff writers Jeffrey S. Solochek, Marlene Sokol and Danny Valentine contributed. Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at, (727) 893-8846 or on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

Tampa Bay's public schools and colleges will be open Tuesday 08/27/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 10:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  2. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  3. Hernando sheriff: Orlando mother turns in 18-year-old son in pawn shop burglary


    Times Staff Writer

    SPRING HILL — Hernando deputies have arrested a fourth person in connection with a pawn shop burglary, but they really didn't have to do anything to find him.

    Elijah Pickard, 18, of Orlando, was turned in by his own mother in connection with a pawn shop burglary, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office [Courtesy of Hernando County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bob Buckhorn and Tampa council say county vote on Confederate statue doesn't speak for them


    TAMPA — It was the Hillsborough County Commission that voted not to remove a statue honoring the Confederacy, but Tampa officials are worried that the city, not the county, will pay the price.

    The Hillsborough County Commission voted 4-to-3 this week to leave in place a Confederate monument outside the old county courthouse. It was dedicated in 1911 with a speech calling African-Americans "ignorant and inferior'' and saying a president who would appoint a black resident to a job in the South "engenders sectional bitterness, encourages lynchings, injures the negro," and is "a traitor to the Anglo-Saxon race." CHRIS URSO   |   Times