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More money for school safety

Hillsborough accepts its share of a federal grant.
Hillsborough High School Senior Anthony Allen with principal Gary Brady, Principal U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine Sullivan, and schools superintendent Jeff Eakins. [MARLENE SOKOL  |  Times staff]
Hillsborough High School Senior Anthony Allen with principal Gary Brady, Principal U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine Sullivan, and schools superintendent Jeff Eakins. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times staff]
Published Oct. 21, 2019

TAMPA — Top brass from the Hillsborough County School District turned out Monday at Hillsborough High School to accept $1.2 money in school security funds under the federal STOP grants program.

They money is part of more than $27 million in grants that have been awarded in Florida, of which $6.4 million — including $1.2 million for Hillsborough — is intended to help school districts and law enforcement prevent school violence.

Guests included Anthony Allen, a Hillsborough High senior who is vice president of the student government and president of his school’s “Start With Hello” club. Allen, 18, plans to attend Florida State University next year to major in international affairs.

He spoke of the fears many students feel, having grown up in the years following the Columbine massacre and, more recently, the mass killings at Sandy Hook and in Parkland.

“With every bang on a locker and yell in the hallways, I jump and think about the worst,” he said. “However, I have never felt safer until now.”

The $1.2 million is just a fraction of state, federal and local tax money the district has been spending on security and mental health, much of it mandated by the state after the 2018 Parkland killings. These projects include the creation of threat assessment teams and physical improvements to harden access to the schools.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins said the $1.2 million will be spent as follows: $492,000 for a program in the middle schools that addresses behavioral issues, $500,000 to bolster the threat assessment process, and $250,000 to install public safety locks on the schools so first responders can enter in case of an emergency.


  1. Hillsborough school superintendent Jeff Eakins holds a time capsule at Cypress Creek Elementary Thursday in Ruskin. Eakins, who retires soon, was a fourth-grade teacher at the school when the capsule was buried in 1991. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  2. Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has pushed for changes to Florida's restraint and seclusion laws for nearly a decade.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) [Associated Press (2016)]
  3. Health officials recommend washing hands frequently and sanitizing toys, clothes and other items as often as possible to avoid the spread of viruses.
  4. An artist's rendering shows one view of Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg after a $28 million renovation. Work is expected to start in February 2021. The Pinellas County School Board approved a contract with Rowe Architects Inc. to work on the project. [Pinellas County Schools]
  5. Graduates enjoy fireworks at Bright House Field.
  6. A bill to merge Florida Polytechnic into the University of Florida keeps advancing, even as most lawmakers say they don't approve.  [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2018]
  7. Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D- Orlando  [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  8. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK  |  Times]
  9. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  10. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  11. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
  12. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)