New school year brings change from uniforms to longer school days

8:45 PM, Aug 20, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa Bay, Florida - USF students still have a few more vacation days left, but most Bay area kids are back in class. This year, there two major changes in public schools nationwide.

Teachers in 45 states are teaching to the Common Core Standards... kindergarten and first grade teachers begin this year. The new curriculum is designed to prepare students for college and careers in Florida. It will phase out the FCAT and allow Florida students to compare how they do with students from other states.

Public schools have new nutrition guidelines. School lunches have less fat, more fruits and vegetables and there is more portion control.

Bay area schools are seeing some local changes too.

There are changes ahead for some Pinellas students; seven middle schools launch the "Overcoming Obstacles" program, teaching students how to be leaders and learn about conflict resolution.  Six elementary schools such as Campbell Park Elementary will have longer school days to help improve student performance.

When Hillsborough students return to class on Tuesday, all 27 high schools will introduce the Microsoft IT Academy. Students will use the Xbox 360's Kinect to incorporate learning.

Pasco's changes are at the top. The district will have a new superintendent; Florida's former Secretary of State Kurt Browning won the primary election. He is going up against a write in candidate in November.

In Polk County, some middle schools will be using Kindles to help improve learning in the classroom.

Hernando students who live less than two miles from school will be allowed to use the next closest bus stop, and all students will have to pay higher lunch prices.

As an A school district, Citrus students returned to class August 8; early yes, but they'll also get out early, on May 23.

In Sarasota County, middle school students will be exchanging hardcover textbooks for digital ones starting with social studies.

In Manatee, Tara Elementary and Palm View Elementary have added a 6th grade to help students ease into middle school. The district also ended its early-release Wednesdays and returned to a traditional schedule.

USF St. Pete will be opening a second dorm this weekend. The 70,000 square foot residence hall will hold nearly 200 students. It's a multi-purpose student center with meeting spaces and a ballroom.

Students begin classes next week. 

Isabel Mascarenas

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