After a somewhat tumultuous spring, with several changes being implemented or announced — including new attendance boundaries for many New Tampa schools, busing and bell schedules — things are seeming to calm down as students and parents adjust to new routines.
Here’s what’s new for the 2017-18 school year in New Tampa, with more changes on the horizon for the following school year, including the rezoning of Clark, Heritage, Hunter’s Green and Pride elementary schools.
New Principals At Two Schools
While their official start dates were late last spring, two principals are looking forward to starting off the school year with new schools in our area.
At Turner/Bartels K-8 School, principal Cindy Land replaced Jonathan Grantham, who left to become a deputy superintendent of schools in Marion County. Land had been principal at Pride Elementary since 2009 and prior to that, worked at Chiles.
“It’s definitely a blessing to be promoted to this position,” says Land, who lives in Live Oak Preserve and whose three sons will all attend Turner/Bartels this school year. “This is the neighborhood school for my children.”
She says that while her new school includes middle school grades six through eight, she sees a lot of similarities between Turner/Bartels and Pride.
“We have a diverse population,” she says. “Parents are very interested in their children’s education, they participate and volunteer and are supportive. I also see that the community seems to really embrace the school. I’m excited to be here and to bring the school and community together,” she says.
Land’s departure from Pride left a vacancy there that has been filled by Amy Zilbar.
For the last four years, Zilbar was a principal coach for the school district, working with new principals and supporting them and others in leadership development. She says her position at Pride is a homecoming, of sorts.
“Early in my career, I worked at Hunter’s Green teaching first grade and as an administrative resource teacher,” she says. “Back then, the only schools in the area were Hunter’s Green, Clark and Tampa Palms.”
While Zilbar says she loved working as a principal coach, she’s happy to be back at a school site, “to put into practice all the things we have been working on,” she says.
“This school has been absolutely wonderful,” Zilbar adds. “Everyone has been so welcoming, from the teachers, to the PTA, to the community, and especially the students have been amazing.”
She says she looks forward to continuing the level of academic excellence already in place at Pride — a consistently A-rated school by the State Department of Education — and to building even more partnerships and traditions there.
Courtesy Busing Ends For Some
As school is getting under way, more New Tampa students will be walking and biking to area middle and high schools.
Many middle and high school students who have received courtesy busing (a bus to a school that is less than two miles from a student’s home) in the past will no longer have bus transportation provided by the Hillsborough County School District.
The responsibility of transportation is now on the parents, so expect further crowding of the roads, as parents who don’t want their children walking or biking will be driving to and from school, too.
However, for Wharton High students who live across Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. from the school, bus transportation will still be available for this school year.
Jamie Warrington, transportation and safety manager for Hillsborough County Public Schools, says that now that BBD is under construction to go to eight lanes in front of the school, it is considered a hazard for students to cross. Once that construction has been completed, BBD’s eight lanes will still be considered a hazard, so the bus transportation for those students will continue.
At our press time, the affected students had not yet been notified of the change, and the school district’s website has not been updated to reflect it, but Warrington says parents will be notified by email before school starts.
To find out if your child will be provided bus transportation to their school for this school year, visit http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/445/transportation/resources/busroutes/.
It also is expected that the School Board will end courtesy busing for elementary school students for the 2018-19 school year.
New Bell Schedule For Turner/Bartels K-8 School
All of the schools in our area will have the same school hours as last year, except for Turner/Bartels K-8, where the school day will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. this school year.
Back in the spring, school officials proposed changing the bell schedules countywide to allow more time for buses to get students to school on time, but were met with such backlash that they put off the change for all schools countywide until next school year, 2018-19.
Through Friday, August 25, the school district is again accepting feedback on adjusting the school schedule ahead of the School Board’s final vote on the matter, which is expected to be held on Tuesday, October 17.
The District is asking parents, students, employees and members of the community to download and use an Excel spreadsheet “simulator” to “try out” different school start and dismissal times (using formulas in the spreadsheet that ensure each scenario meets appropriate number of minutes in the school day, along with not starting too early or late).
Then, people can submit their suggestions for start and end times by emailing their completed spreadsheet back to district staff.
To check out the start time simulator, click the link on the school district’s home page at SDHC.k12.fl.us or go directly to SDHC.k12.fl.us/doc/1985/administration/resources/bellsimulator/.