Photo: With years of experience under her belt, Hillsborough County Public Schools principal Cindy Guy has been appointed to take the helm at Gibsonton Elementary School.

By Tamas Mondovics

District Provides Free School LunchTo All Students Until October 20

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials have announced to provide free school lunch through October 20, to all students to regardless of their eligibility status.
The temporary change spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is to make it easier for school districts affected by Hurricane Irma to feed students.  
The initiative is said to potentially impact more than 1,800 schools and 1.4 million children across Florida.

According to officials the HCPS’s Student Nutrition Services team provided 34,000 meals per day to evacuees at more than 40 of its schools serving as shelters during Hurricane Irma.

More than 29,000 of our neighbors sought shelter in one of our schools.

In a recent press release school officials emphasized that as many families lost power during the storm access to hot meals for a period of time was limited.

Shortages of certain food products across the state also added to the already challenging situation.

“The free school lunches, in addition to the free breakfast, which is already in place for all children, will ensure students have healthy, nutritious meals during this time of need,” wrote Tanya Arja in a release.

Students will only need to enter their student ID number after getting their meal in the lunch line.

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District To Use Early Release Days For Makeup Time After Hurricane Irma

Hillsborough County Public Schools officials have decided last month to convert four Early Release Days into regular school days, beginning on Monday, October 23, to make up for missed classroom time due to Hurricane Irma.

Officials said that instead of dismissing an hour early, schools will dismiss at its normal time on the following dates: Monday, October 23, October 30, November 6 and November 13, which they said will allow students at all grade levels to meet the state’s requirements for time spent in class during the first semester.

To finalize its decision the district sent a survey directed to employees for feedback, which proved that the most popular option (78% of respondents) to make up for missed time is changing early release days.

Hillsborough County Public Schools annually build additional instructional time into its calendar each year.   
According to HCPS spokesperson Tanya Arja, Early Release Days provide valuable planning time for teachers, and wrote in a press releases that, “This option was coordinated with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, to make sure it would preserve other teacher work days and vacation days, while also allowing our students to get the class time they need.”

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HCPS Holds Bell Schedule Meetings

Hurricane Irma prompted a number of meetings to be rescheduled including the School Board meeting originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 12, which was rescheduled to Tuesday, September 19.

Due to this change, the district has also rescheduled its town hall style public meetings in connection with the 2018-2019 Bell Schedule.

The two meetings were held on Thursday, September 21, at the Riverview High School cafeteria, 11311 Boyette Rd. in Riverview and on Tuesday, September 26, at Jefferson High School media center, 4401 Cypress St., in Tampa.

According to the district, thousands of students arrive late to school because the current arrival and dismissal schedule does not allow buses enough time to run their routes.

HCPS reported that last year, 12,000 students were late to school every day.
School officials also extended the new bell schedule survey to gather input from parents, students, district employees and the community through the end of the month of September.

Nearly 30,000 people have reportedly shared their thoughts using the survey.

The School Board is said to vote on a final bell schedule on Tuesday, October 17, which according to HCPS will give families nearly a year to make needed adjustments to their schedules. Visit

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