By Superintendent Addison Davis

We enter a new academic year full of confidence and excitement as Hillsborough County Public Schools is ranked 19th in the state, its highest ranking in history. The incredible achievement was realized through the hard work and dedication of teachers, support staff, leaders, students and families. This celebration is only the beginning of what we will achieve together.

Hillsborough County Public Schools is unveiling fresh initiatives and a new school in 2022-23. We are thrilled to add the Dorothy C. York Innovation Academy under the leadership of Principal Missy Lennard to the tradition of excellence in south county. This pre-K-8 school offers another educational option to meet the needs of our growing student population in this area.

Our district is also expanding accelerated learning to 13 more high schools and one middle school by adding the Cambridge AICE Program. Under this rigorous pathway, students can earn 100 percent Bright Futures Scholarships without an SAT score requirement, opening new opportunities for secondary education while decreasing economic barriers. Cambridge AICE was piloted at Sumner High School and will be expanded to Shields Middle School and East Bay and Riverview high schools.

South county will also benefit from a new Bridge to Biliteracy program at Summerfield Crossings and Dawson elementary schools. It is designed to develop Spanish proficiency for students by providing a full Spanish immersion experience for 50 percent of the day, learning academics in two languages on an alternating basis. Funded by the Department of Defense, the initiative is slated to expand from two to seven schools within four years.

Finally, our district is embarking on a new federal reimbursement program that will offer meals at no cost to more than 80 percent of our student body. The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) allows schools where 40 percent or more of students are categorically eligible for free school meals to provide free meals to all students on that campus. More than 170 schools will benefit from this program, which decreases paperwork for parents, schools and nutrition staff.

While student performance will remain top of mind, so will mental wellness. Our district has received additional funding from the state to bolster counseling services, including our Mobile Response Unit for students in crisis. We stand ready to remedy the effects of the pandemic while looking forward with optimism as we embark on our quest to become a top-10 school district.

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