Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Marshall Middle getting new air conditioning, lights, other upgrades

PLANT CITY — Afternoons are the toughest.

As temperatures outside climb into the high 80s and students return from lunch, Marshall Middle School teacher Elisa Humphrey sees the heat take its toll on her students. Their eyes glaze over, they start to lose focus and some fight to stay awake.

But the temperatures inside aren't much cooler, making it all the more challenging for them to stay connected.

Come this fall, the historic middle school's perpetually unpredictable temperature extremes will be fodder for history books, thanks to a $4.6 million upgrade this summer that includes a new air-conditioning system. Teachers and administrators at the 900-student school say it will eliminate the wide fluctuations from hot to cold between classrooms.

The variations are so extreme, said Humphrey, that some teachers go exploring between classes, looking for empty rooms that are cool enough — but not too cold — so their students can escape the heat of their regular classrooms.

"It could be really comfortable one day, or the next you can walk into your classroom and the air conditioning is out and you just say to yourself, 'You've got to be kidding,' " said Humphrey, who has taught at Marshall for 18 years.

The upgrade is among dozens of projects across the Hillsborough County School District begun this summer, and the largest one for Plant City's public schools.

Work began the week before classes ended on June 8. In addition to the heating and cooling upgrade, workers are installing overhead lights that are brighter and more energy efficient than the old ones, principal Daphne Blanton said.

"Between their iPods and computers, students are getting enough eyestrain," she said. "This will make it much brighter for them."

Lately, the middle school at Maryland Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard looks more like a construction site than a campus. Workers have ripped out much of the old lighting system and ductwork. Dirt is piled up where trenches were dug for new piping. Debris is piled up outside the main entrance.

The worry on minds now, said Blanton, is whether workers will finish on time. Tropical Storm Debby caused a brief stoppage, but the project remains on schedule, she said.

"It's almost a seven-month job and they have to do it in three months," Blanton said.

Blanton isn't sure when the district last replaced the air-conditioning system. Marshall, named for Edward J. Marshall, the first African-American to serve as a school trustee in Plant City, is one of the city's oldest schools.

In the 1920s, Marshall persuaded city officials to donate land to the district to build a school for the predominantly black neighborhood east of downtown, according to the school's website. The property underwent several revisions as its mission evolved over the years — as an elementary school, a K-12 school and a high school in the 1950s.

The school was called the Midway Academy, and for a brief time, its upper grades were referred to collectively as the Plant City Negro Junior High and High School. Marshall became a middle school in 1995.

The school's numerous incarnations are noticeable when strolling the halls.

"The students sometimes ask why the walls are brick in some places. I tell them, 'That used to be outside of the building,' " Blanton said.

Because of the construction, parents are urged to go to Tomlin Middle School at Baker and Woodrow Wilson streets to register their students for classes at Marshall.

Rich Shopes can be reached at (813) 661-2454 or [email protected]

Comments

High school scoreboard for Jan. 16

Tuesdayís scoreboardGirls soccerLennard 8, Blake 0Osceola 1, Clearwater Central Cath. 0Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 4, Bishop McLaughlin 0
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Q: I strongly suspect that my boss is stealing from our employer. As the property manager for this apartment complex, she handles all payments, deposits and other financial matters.A few weeks ago, I accidentally discovered some suspicious discrepanc...
Updated: 1 hour ago

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG ó A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Women speak out on abuse by Nassar; Nationís first Sikh attorney general confirmed; more in U.S. news

Women speak out on abuse by Nassar; Nationís first Sikh attorney general confirmed; more in U.S. news

Updated: 3 hours ago
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

ST. PETERSBURG ó Teamwork wins games, they say. And basketball can bridge gaps.Thatís what makes the Facebook video of three St. Petersburg police officers playing a game of pickup in the street against three kids so compelling. The officers, who wer...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA ó The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

PORT RICHEY ó The casino boat operator whose shuttle caught fire Sunday, leaving one passenger dead, says it does not know what could have caused the blaze.But federal records show the company, now called Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, had another boat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Did everyone enjoy the cool, sunny weather? Because itís over now.Itís about to get very chilly, Tampa Bay. A rush of arctic air is headed our way, bringing another cold spell. Daytime temperatures will be in the low 60s on Wednesday, but overnight t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Jackpot winner and Florida man Shane Missler wants to leave behind a legacy with his winnings.But he wonít be doing that by doling out cash to Twitter followers.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpotAn account cunningl...
Updated: 4 hours ago