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Back to School: Security and lunch changes in Hillsborough

8:01 AM, Aug 20, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- Kids are coming back to more secure schools in Hillsborough County as the school year begins Tuesday.

After the terrible school shooting at Sandy Hook, Superintendent MaryEllen Elia got Hillsborough's School Board on board with significant security spending.

The district has pledged $1.6 million to secure schools and give them a single access point.

In these schools, kids and parents will still come and go freely during drop-off and pick-up times when the hallways are full of alert teachers.

But during the school day, when teachers and staff are busy with other tasks, visitors will generally have to be buzzed in by an office worker who identifies the visitor using a camera and intercom system.

"We want our parents and our community members to be involved in our schools," Superintendent Elia told 10 News as she started her first day of school for 2013 before sunrise at Hillsborough High School in Seminole Heights.

"But we have to know who's on our campus and we have to make sure our kids are safe all the time -- and they are, in Hillsborough County. We just want to put major emphasis on that."

The School Board, however, did not approve the money for Elia's proposal to continue a temporary program that put school resource officers in all Hillsborough County elementary schools.

Also new this year is innovation in school lunches. It's not just fish sticks and a fruit cup any more.

Hillsborough County is launching a smartphone app with school meal menus and nutrition information.

And, starting next month, students will load up their lunches onto a new kind of tray that was designed by food pros at the district.

It's color-coded with different shapes to guide students to pick the right mix of foods for a healthy meal.

Rectangles of different sizes show how much of each type of food -- grains, protein, dairy, fruits, and vegetables -- go into a balanced lunch.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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