State gives Hillsborough County permission to open all-boys and all-girls schools

Ferrell and Franklin picked for pilot program

TAMPA - Two Hillsborough County middle schools have won approval from the state to become single sex preparatory academies. Ferrell Middle School will become an all girls school. Franklin Middle School will turn into an all boys academy.

The Florida Board of Education approved the changes at its meeting in Bradenton Tuesday.

Franklin was on the state's intervention list. Hillsborough County educators were ordered to take drastic measures to turn around the under-performing school. They came up with the idea of turning the school into an all boys preparatory academy, with an emphasis on technology.

"At this age, kids automatically separate themselves at lunch and other functions," said Franklin Principal Karen French, so separating the whole school wasn't much of a stretch. "It takes out that 'I need to impress so and so. Or I can't do this in front of the opposite sex, said French. "It lets them focus more so on academics."

Some parents and guardians are not happy with the switch. Rosalie Fernandez and her granddaughter live a block from Franklin Middle School. "My granddaughter walks to school now," said Fernandez. "I don't think it's right. I think they should leave it the way it is. Boys and girls together." Fernandez's granddaughter will now be forced to take a bus to school.

As part of the emphasis on technology, every student and Ferrell and Franklin will get iPads to use next year. One Franklin 7th grader, Louis Diaz, said, "I'd rather have an iPad than girls. I'm only in middle school. What's the rush?"

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