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Marlene Sokol - Education reporter

Education reporter

I’ve been a journalist since 1983 at newspapers all over Florida. After 15 years as an editor in the Tampa suburbs I was assigned to cover the Hillsborough public school system, the same one that gave my two children a great education. That last part didn't happen by itself. I was an active volunteer and believe schools should accommodate parents' busy schedules. I’m not a fan of the 3 p.m. parent conference or 10 a.m. PTA meeting! On weekends I play tennis and volunteer at a youth soccer program. Call or email me with your tips about the schools. I use Facebook for family and Twitter for self-promotion. But I prefer my conversations one-on-one.

  1. From left, Bright Owens, Jonah Seeley, 12, and Elijah Seeley, 14, gathered outside Hillsborough County school district headquarters Thursday as the School Board discussed reopening campuses for the 2020-21 academic year. They were part of a group who want school buildings to reopen. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  2. In this image from the Hillsborough County school district's livestream video Thursday, School Board members meet to revisit plans for reopening schools during the pandemic. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
  3. Aron Zions, a social studies teacher at Pierce Middle School in Tampa, notified colleagues Tuesday that a fellow staffer who worked in the building last week has since tested positive for COVID-19. He contends district officials should have delivered that news earlier. [Times (2011)]
  4. Teachers and their supporters protested Pinellas County's school reopening plan on July 14 at district headquarters in Largo. Art teacher Krista Schilling, in the foreground, said "I'm very concerned about teaching inside a closed classroom and physically coming in contact with many students." [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  5. Students follow teacher Jessica Nelson on the first day of a pre-kindergarten program in June at Mitchell Elementary in Tampa. The kids wore masks, practiced social distancing and had their temperatures checked during something of a test drive for the fall semester. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  6. Pre-kindergarten students wait to be taken to class at Mitchell Elementary School, Tampa, Monday, June 22. More than 200 children have been in summer programs districtwide, and others are taking part in athletic conditioning. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  7. A worker prepares Walker Middle School in Odessa for a new air conditioning system in early June, part of an initiative to repair and replace cooling systems across the Hillsborough County school district. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
  8. Hillsborough County lunch room workers place food on a car while waiting in a line Wednesday, April 15, 2020, at the Brandon High School in Brandon, Fla. Hillsborough County Schools have stopped daily breakfast and lunch pickups for students and are distributing a week's worth of food one day a week. The change was to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
  9. Former Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins. [Times (2015)]
  10. The Hillsborough County school system's finances are strained once again, with some of the problem coming from spending on the COVID-19 crisis. [MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP]
  11. Superintendente de las escuelas de Hillsborough Addison Davisy  Karen Perez miembro de la Junta Escolar. [Hillsborough County School District]
  12. Hillsborough County school superintendent Addison Davis, left, and School Board member Karen Perez. Davis told board members in an email this week that 206 COVID-19 cases had been found in district schools this year. Perez says that does not bode well for the upcoming school year. [Hillsborough County School District]
  13. High School English teacher Maria Diaz rallies with other protesters outside Raymond O. Shelton School Administration Center in Tampa on Thursday before a special School Board meeting to discuss the district's reopening plan. [IVY CEBALLO  |  Times]
  14. The Hillsborough County School Board is pictured on video meeting in a socially distanced fashion during a workshop to discuss reopening plans last week. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
  15. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to Floridians about plans to reopen schools during a six-minute address on Wednesday. [The Florida Channel]
  16. Pasco County's Fivay High School. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  17. Hillsborough County school officials have moved the start of athletic seasons to Aug. 10 because of the coronavirus. Student-athletes will continue conditioning on school campuses, although with increased safety measures, the school district said. The previous start date was July 27. [Times (2019)]
  18. Marissa Silkie-Rees,  maestra de ciencias en el Condado de Pinellas se unió a otros maestros y simpatizantes en la sede del Distrito Escolar del Condado de Pinellas,el martes 14 de julio de 2020 en apoyo de no regresar al aula este otoño debido al Coronavirus. . "Estoy realmente asustada y frustrada. Los políticos ignoran la ciencia". [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  19. Pinellas County teacher Marissa Silkie-Rees joined colleagues and supporters in a protest last week over plans to reopen school campuses as COVID-19 cases rise. On Monday in Tallahassee, Florida's teachers union announced a lawsuit challenging a state order that calls for campuses to open in August. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  20. Hernando County School Board chair Susan Duval and superintendent John Stratton at a special board meeting Monday. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
  21. Addison Davis checks in on a student at Grove Park Elementary in Clay County, where, as the elected superintendent, he purchased learning materials from the company Achieve3000. A recent $3.7 million purchase from the same company is raising eyebrows in Hillsborough County, where he became superintendent earlier this year. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times]
  22. The Hillsborough County School Board is pictured on video meeting in a socially distanced fashion during a workshop Thursday to discuss reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year. [Hillsborough County Public Schools]
  23. The Hillsborough County School Board meets in June, observing social distancing. Today, the board hears superintendent Addison Davis's plan to reopen schools. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]