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Pinellas education news: Praise for the Eckerd College rescue team, homework help and more

News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.
Capt. Matthew A. Thompson, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard in St. Petersburg, presented the Meritorious Public Service Award to members of the Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team during a ceremony Monday on the Eckerd campus. [Eckerd College]
Published Sep. 11

Coast Guard honors Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team

The Eckerd College Search and Rescue team received the Meritorious Public Service Award from the U.S. Coast Guard this week, the second-highest honor bestowed by the military branch. The award, presented Monday in a ceremony on campus, recognizes the team’s contributions in advancing the Coast Guard’s mission. The team is the only maritime aid organization of its kind in the nation. Members are volunteers, almost exclusively undergraduates, who work year-round, 24-hours a day, every day. Founded in 1971 to provide safety services for the college’s water sports activities, the program extended its rescue services to the Tampa Bay boating community six years later. Student volunteers respond to more than 500 maritime distress calls annually. They provide free services including towing; dewatering vessels; firefighting; pulling vessels from aground; basic life support; and search and rescue services for missing persons, overdue vessels and people who fall from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and other bridges. Capt. Matthew A. Thompson, Commanding Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, presented the award.

The Eckerd College Search and Rescue Team stands with representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard and school staff Monday during an award presentation on campus. The team received the Meritorious Public Service Award, the Coast Guard's second-highest honor. [Eckerd College]

Missed day from Dorian will not impact Pinellas school schedule

The Pinellas County school system will not have to make up the missed day of classes from Hurricane Dorian, the district said this week. District schools were closed Sept. 3 in anticipation of severe weather from the storm. But the district said in a statement that it reviewed state requirements for instructional time, along with this year’s school calendar, and determined that “we will have enough instructional hours for this school year, and do not need to make up the day.”

District in need of bus drivers, school nurses

The Pinellas County school system is trying to fill job vacancies in two key areas — bus transportation and school clinics. The district is seeking full- and part-time bus drivers and licensed practical nurses to staff school clinics and work with registered nurses. Bus driver candidates can visit or call (727) 547-7294. Applicants for the nursing positions must be high school graduates or have a GED, they must be certified in CPR, must pass a Level II background check and have a clean license from the Florida Board of Nursing. For more information, call (727) 588-6320.

Homework Helpline available to Pinellas students

Students who need help with math, science, social studies or language arts can call the Homework Helpline, a free service from the Pinellas County school system offered from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Students who need practice reading can also call the helpline and spend 10 minutes reading to an adult. Families can reach the helpline at (727) 547-7223.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Chicken tender basket with crispy fries and roll, Max Cheese Sticks, fruit and yogurt plate, bologna and cheese sandwich, marinara cup, green beans, fresh veggie dippers.

Tuesday: Teriyaki beef dippers with rice and chow mein noodles, grilled cheese, chicken caesar salad, Jamwich Kit, tomato soup, romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Chicken Fajita Cheez-It Bowl, pasta and meatballs, yogurt and fruit parfait, ham and cheese, croissant, spinach or collard greens, sliced cucumbers.

Thursday: Italian beef and mushroom pizza, corn dog or hot dog, Apple-a-Day Salad, chicken caesar wrap, country baked beans, mixed side salad.

Friday: Pizza variety, fish nuggets with roll, chef salad, turkey and cheese hoagie or sandwich, green peas, fresh veggie dippers.


  1. Fortify Florida is a new app that allows for anonymous reporting of suspected school threats. Florida Department of Education
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  2. Pasco County school superintendent Kurt Browning says Fortify Florida, the new state-sponsored app that allows students to report potential threats, is "disrupting the education day" because the callers are anonymous, many of the tips are vague and there's no opportunity to get more information from tipsters. "I have an obligation to provide kids with a great education," Browning said. "I cannot do it with this tool, because kids are hiding behind Fortify Florida." JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |
    Vague and anonymous tips often waste law enforcement’s time and disrupt the school day, says Kurt Browning, president of Florida’s superintendents association.
  3. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  4. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  5. This image from a Pinellas County Schools video shows an armed police officer running to respond to a fictional active shooter.
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  6. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  7. Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia holds a back-to-school press conference at Rampello K-8 School, [TIMES files]
    MaryEllen Elia, who led the Hillsborough district from 2005 to 2015, has been an educator since 1970.
  8. Jeff Eakins and MaryEllen Elia, Hillsborough's last two superintendents, were hired from inside the school system. So have all others since 1967. [TIMES FILES] Times staff
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  9. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
    The board’s 2019-20 budget totals $1.39 billion.
  10. The DeLucio family of Trinity toured the Mitchell High School campus and showed the visit on their YouTube channel, which has more than 1 million subscribers. Many parents, students and school officials were not amused. YouTube
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