Friday, September 21, 2018


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.

CHRIS URSO   |   Times
Hillsborough County Public Schools' Superintendent Jeff Eakins gestures as he speaks during a town hall meeting Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 in Tampa. Eakins spoke at South Tampa Fellowship, Ballast Point campus Tuesday about the  Strengthen Our Schools Hillsborough School Referendum that will be on the November ballot in Hillsborough county.

Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a long-awaited, school-by-school list of 1,785...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Following the money: Referendum and AC materials

Following the money: Referendum and AC materials

We've been collecting documents to supplement our reporting about the upcoming Hillsborough sales tax referendum and thought we would share them here. This post will be updated.First:
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Hillsborough County Superintendent Jeff Eakins opens a series of town hall meetings at South Tampa Fellowship. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]

In town hall, Eakins takes school district's story to Ballast Point

 TAMPA — First, the disclaimer: "I'm not here to tell you how to vote," Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins told his audience. "I'm here to educate you about why we're here."
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Principal John Haley walks through the cafeteria of Franklin Boys Preparatory School. [TIMES FILES]

DeSantis’s school visit is “not a campaign stop,” Hillsborough district says

Social media this morning was abuzz with questions about gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis's planned 2 p.m. visit to Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, a public middle school in Hillsborough County.Educators are asking: Wouldn't this...
Published: 09/18/18
Betty Castor, left, at an elections watch party here with daughter and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, would serve as chairwoman of a committee overseeing the spending of prooceeds from a proposed sales tax hike for schools. [Times files (2016)]

Betty Castor would head up spending oversight if voters approve school sales-tax hike

TAMPA — Betty Castor, long-time educator and former president of the University of South Florida, will head up a committee charged with ensuring responsible spending of a sales-tax hike for Hillsborough public schools improvements if voters approve...
Published: 09/17/18
Across Florida, even in some heavily conservative counties, voters are supporting added local taxes for schools. Of 10 local education funding measures on the Aug. 28 primary ballot, every one passed. Similar measures for eight more counties, including Hillsborough, will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. []

More Florida counties are voting to raise local taxes for schools. Is it a message to lawmakers?

In a video that appeared on YouTube in mid-May, the Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives said "union bosses and their media allies" were pushing a "myth." It wasn’t true, they said, that state funding for public schools had...
Published: 09/17/18
Karen Perez, a social worker, is running for a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board. [MARLENE SOKOL | Times]

On the campaign trail with Hillsborough School Board candidate Karen Perez

The Tampa Bay Times was not able to interview Karen Perez during her primary campaign for Hillsborough County School Board. After she placed second in a six-way districtwide race to replace April Griffin, we invited her again...
Published: 09/14/18
Updated: 09/15/18
Tampa Theatre [SKIP O'ROURKE | Times]

Two chances next week to see “Backpack Full of Cash”

PTA organizations around Hillsborough County are sponsoring two free screenings of "Backpack Full of Cash," the documentary film about charter schools, and their growth at times of limited funding for traditional public schools.The...
Published: 09/13/18
Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins. [Hillsborough County School District]

Eakins schedules town hall meetings to discuss school needs

NOTE: This post has been updated to include appearances at Plant City High School, Wharton High School, and Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church. Hillsborough Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins has planned a series of...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins, seen here talking with teachers in 2016, says he takes pride in having cut teaching and administrative positions over the last three years.

For Hillsborough voters, a question: How good has the school district been with your money?

TAMPA — At a Ballast Point church this Tuesday, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins will do something he held off doing for three years. He will ask the public to trust him with more of their money.
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/15/18