HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — By this time next week, thousands of students across the Tampa Bay Area will have finished their first day of a new school year. Hillsborough County school leaders shared how they’re getting ready for day one and how they’re handling any challenges ahead.
Tracy Scott will tell you she knew when she was a little girl what she wanted to be.
“I just do the job, and this is a job I love,” said Scott, a kindergarten teacher for Hillsborough County Schools.
Scott has been teaching for 39 years and is now ready to welcome her latest kindergarten class next week.
“I still have to do the labeling,” said Scott. “I still have to do getting all the stuff ready for that first week.”
While highlighting their newest school, Dorothy York Pk-8 Innovation Academy, Hillsborough County school officials shared how they’re preparing for students' first day and the challenges ahead.
“This is the greatest deficit that we’ve ever seen,” said Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.
In kicking off a new school year, district leaders said they’re facing a national crisis. Davis said at this time, they have 680 instructional vacancies.
“We have deployed 290 district staff members to go to schools to cover classrooms, and we will be reviewing every class size, every master schedule, all of our enrollment to make certain that our students have a seamless opportunity to have exciting, accelerated opportunities in our schools every single day,” said Davis.
Right now, school safety is also top of mind. John Newman, the Chief of Security and Emergency Management for HCPS, said they want parents to know they’re doing their very best in the district to provide the safest environment possible.
“It’s not the first day of school that we worry about or the last day. It’s every day that our schools are open,” said Newman.
Until that first school bell rings, teachers like Scott will continue to put the final touches on their classrooms.
“Our top priority is having a safe environment for their children and letting them know they can trust us,” said Scott.