Thursday, November 23, 2017


Marlene Sokol

Marlene Sokol

Marlene Sokol has worked at the Times as a reporter, editor and columnist since 1988. After launching North of Tampa in 1996, she served first as its editor and later as a general assignment reporter specializing in the suburbs. She now covers education in Hillsborough County.

A standing-room-only crowd at Thursday's meeting of the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association voted to

Teachers in Hillsborough decide that for a week they will ‘work the contract’

TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County will "work the contract" for a week after Thanksgiving to illustrate their dissatisfaction with treatment from the school district.That means no late meetings or phone calls with parents and no grading...
Published: 11/10/17
Teachers picketed outside Steinbrenner High School on Monday morning. They are pushing for scheduled pay raises of $4,000 for roughly a third of the district's teaching force. The Hillsborough County School District says it can't afford the pay bump. [Photo courtesy of WTSP-Ch. 10]

As contract talks stall, Hillsborough teachers campaign for raises with email and pickets

TAMPA — With contract negotiations stalled, Hillsborough County teachers are on a campaign to try to get their scheduled pay raises.Emails are going out to the School Board, superintendent Jeff Eakins and the media, from parents and teachers...
Updated one month ago
Authorities investigate the scene near a covered body on a bike path after a motorist drove onto the path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]

What we know about New York terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov’s Tampa ties

BY RICHARD DANIELSON, CHRISTOPHER O’DONNELL, MARLENE SOKOL AND JOSH SOLOMONTAMPA — The man New York authorities say used a truck to kill at least eight people in Manhattan Tuesday had an address in Tampa, according to media reports and a...
Updated one month ago
Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes is accused in an anonymous complaint of influencing a decision to close the district's planning and construction department to protect friends and campaign donors. Valdes insists the claims are false and says political rivals frequently target her. [Times files]

New complaint against Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes prompts investigation

TAMPA — Already the subject of multiple complaints that she says are politically motivated, Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes has been named in a new one, this time involving the closing of the district’s planning and construction...
Updated one month ago
Booker T. Washington Elementary is one of seven Hillsborough schools ordered to submit turnaround options in case they do not earn at least a C grade this school year.

For seven struggling schools, Hillsborough selects the least disruptive turnaround option

TAMPA - Faced with four possible back-up plans for seven D and F schools, the Hillsborough County School District chose...
Updated one month ago
Parents walk their students home from Mort Elementary, which is two points shy of a C grade for 2016-17. Now the state wants the North Tampa school to make a contingency plan in case it fails to get a C for this school year. Six other HIllsborough County schools face the same situation. [Times files]

New state law targets seven Hillsborough schools with D’s and F’s

TAMPA — The state is telling Hillsborough County to have contingency plans ready by Friday for seven struggling schools in case they don’t receive C grades or better at the end of the year.The directive affects D-rated Foster, Mort, Oak Park...
Updated one month ago
A new plan announced by Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins would use empty space in a number of schools to start preschool programs. The set up would allow kids to stay in the same school from preschool to kindergarten.

With classrooms to spare in urban areas, Hillsborough wants to fill empty space with preschool kids

TAMPA — Hundreds of low-income children could have access to quality preschool next year under a plan now under development in the Hillsborough County School District.Superintendent Jeff Eakins said Monday he has asked his assistant...
Updated one month ago
This might be the last teacher bargaining session in Hillsborough for awhile. Although the two sides are not officially at an impasse, the district says it cannot pay teachers their scheduled raises.

Hillsborough teachers get a hard no on scheduled pay raises

TAMPA — Hillsborough County teachers who were expecting $4,000 raises this year will not get them because of continued financial pressures, their union was told this week. "We cannot responsibly award raises," employee...
Updated one month ago
Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rell Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day

Here’s what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day

LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.My phone … Where’s my phone?Then they’d remember.They were reading Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel...
Updated one month ago
Stephanie Woodford rose through the ranks of the Hillsborough County School District, then was fired as Chief of Human Resources on April 28. She's now suing the district, alleging numerous acts of corruption. [EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times]

Former Hillsborough school official files lawsuit alleging high-level corruption

TAMPA — The fired human resources chief of the Hillsborough County School District is accusing district leaders and two School Board members of committing corrupt acts and then punishing her when she would not go along.Stephanie Woodford...
Updated one month ago