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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. Beulah Stang, a sixth-grade math teacher at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg, carries a pillow and suitcase into the Pinellas County special needs shelter at the school on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022 in St. Petersburg. The shelter had a capacity of over 700 people.
  2. Alejandro Riddick, 18, who recently moved from Philadelphia to Plant City with his family, carries a mattress inside one of Hillsborough County’s pet-friendly shelters in preparation for Hurricane Ian at Durant High in Plant City on Tuesday, September 27, 2022.
  3. As the hurricane approaches, ”have a plan and review that plan with your children,” says Michael Kelleher, supervisor of clinical care for the Hillsborough County School District. “Let them know how you’re keeping your family safe.”
  4. Families settled into their spots in the shelter at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg as Hurricane Irma approached in 2017.
  5. Social conservatives objected to lessons that Hillsborough school district leaders said were developed in accordance with state law and that emphasize abstinence to prevent pregnancy and disease.
  6. Strawberry Crest High School had 18 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists this year, more than any other Tampa Bay area school.
  7. Hillsborough County school superintendent Addison Davis speaks during a news conference at Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy PreK-8 on Aug. 3 in Apollo Beach.
  8. Alumnos de la Escuela Intermedia Greco en Temple Terrace. Greco está lejos de tener una buen nivel de matrícula, según los registros del distrito. Una firma consultora está buscando formas de igualar la inscripción en las escuelas del distrito del condado de Hillsborough.
  9. Students are seen during dismissal at Greco Middle School on Oct. 1, 2021, in Temple Terrace. Greco is nearly half-empty, according to district records. A consultant is looking for ways to even enrollment at Hillsborough County district schools.
  10. Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent Mark Brutnell, right, speaks at a news conference at FDLE headquarters in Tampa on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. He is joined by FDLE special agent supervisor Edith Neal, center, and special agent assistant J. Scanlan. FDLE agents arrested three former Hudson High teachers after an alleged fraudulent testing scam.
  11. The numbers are significant as the Hillsborough school district wrestles with dwindling enrollment in some of its older traditional schools.
  12. Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association negotiators Lindsey Blankenbaker, left, Nancy Velardi, center, and Dan Perazzo participate in contract talks with the school district in July. In a session this week, the district proposed paying starting teachers more than $50,000.
  13. Children and staff gather at Carrollwood Elementary School during dismissal on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Tampa. Parents at the school are proposing that it be expanded to include grades 6-8.
  14. The entrance to Giunta Middle School, 4202 S Falkenburg Road in Riverview. According to a Hillsborough County School District report, Giunta operated at 56% capacity in 2021-22.
  15. The final vote tally, after a recount, for and against a schools tax in Hillsborough County is shown.
  16. Hillsborough County election officials conduct a machine recount at the Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, in Tampa.
  17. The Hillsborough County Public Schools' Instructional Service Center, 2920 N. 40th St., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 in Tampa.
  18. Hillsborough School District headquarters in downtown Tampa.
  19. Erik Hagen, a music teacher at Oak Grove Elementary, waves a sign supporting the Hillsborough County school district's proposed special property tax at the Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library in Tampa on Tuesday.
  20. Businessman Brian Scott, left, won the Republican primary for Pinellas County Commission District 2 on Tuesday. He will face incumbent Democrat Pat Gerard in the general election Nov. 8.
  21. Hillsborough County school superintendent Addison Davis addresses an audience on July 13, 2022, at Armwood High about the proposed special property tax for schools on the Aug. 23 ballot.
  22. Nancy Velardi, center, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, criticizes the Pinellas County school district's pay offer for 2022-23 after union members walked out of contract talks on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2020.
  23. Jill Watson, 37, a second-grade teacher at Woodbridge Elementary, shops at the Hillsborough Education Foundation's Teaching Tools Resource Center on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Tampa as she prepared for coming school year. "I've been coming here for years," Watson said. "Some of it is random, but then you're glad you have it."
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