Archived Blogs & Articles

Posted: 6/5/2012
New Flood Maps Becoming Official in August

Updated flood maps for Hillsborough County from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have arrived and should become effective for flood insurance and development purposes by August 28, 2008.

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

Posted: 6/5/2012
Once-A-Week Watering Restrictions Extended Through September

Residents of unincorporated Hillsborough County will remain on once-a-week watering restrictions for at least another three months.

To read the entire article, click on the link below:

Posted: 6/5/2012
Mosquito Control Spraying By Air Friday Morning

Hillsborough County Mosquito and Aquatic Weed Control will be spraying the pesticide Dibrom 14 by air to control adult mosquitoes on Friday, July 30, between the hours of 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. The spraying boundaries are:

Brandon/Valrico area with the boundaries of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to the north, South Parsons Avenue to the west, East Bloomingdale Avenue to the south, and South Forbes Road to the east.

The spraying will be done by a King Air C90 Airplane, at an altitude of 300 feet above ground level. For further information, contact Hillsborough County Public Works Customer Satisfaction at (813) 635-5400

Posted: 5/23/2012
Griffin has a good idea: Turn STEM into STEAM

Hillsborough County School Board member April Griffin stood before a capacity crowd Wednesday at the district's 22nd Annual Elementary Fine Arts Festival and said she wanted to enhance all the talk about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, education.

Griffin said the acronym should be changed to STEAM, adding an "A" for arts. Her logic: Arts education should remain a vital part of the curriculum. It's well documented that kids involved in the arts tend to do better in school, but Griffin points to studies that indicate involvement in the arts strengthens the brain's attention system, which can improve cognition.

Here's hoping the emphasis on arts, well, gathers steam.

Read the story on Tampa Bay Times

Posted: 5/23/2012
Early Look at FCAT Reading Scores Shows More Passing Grades

With a dramatic drop in the state's writing scores earlier this week, many schools were braced for a bruising with the release of high school reading results.

That didn't happen.

Larger percentages of Florida's ninth- and 10th-graders earned a passing score of 3 or better on the FCAT reading exam this year than they did a year ago, according to results released Friday. That's despite complaints by superintendents across Florida that a higher "cut" score would lead to increased failures and more time and money spent on remedial work.

Early numbers show that 52 percent of ninth-graders and 50 percent of 10th-graders scored 3 or higher on the reading exam, up from 48 percent and 39 percent, respectively, a year ago. The reading test is scored on a 5-point scale.

In the Tampa Bay area, results were mixed across the school districts.

Click here to read the entire story on Tampa Bay Times

Posted: 5/22/2012
A Message from Your Children's Board of Hillsborough County

Friends, Colleagues and Citizens,

The Board Chair of the Children's Board, Chris Brown, wrote and submitted this op-ed piece for the Times on April 24th. We are sending it to you because the Times did not publish it and we wanted to let you know that we did indeed respond to the issues they have identified in the series of articles over the last three months.

If you have any questions or would like clarification about any of these issues please do not hesitate to call me directly.

Thank you for your continued support. 

Luanne Panacek

Questions about Your Children's Board

Recent questions raised by the media and citizens of Hillsborough County have given us a welcome opportunity to discuss what the Children's Board of Hillsborough County is and what we do. The Children's Board administers, prioritizes and oversees how money derived from property tax is spent to help families and children in Hillsborough County. For every $1,000 in assessed property value, a homeowner pays .50 cents to the Children's Board to support the nearly 100,000 children and families we serve each year. 

Our mission is to make sure that every child in the county is born healthy, is ready for school when they arrive and is reading at or above grade level by third grade. Why this focus? Because children reading at or above grade level by third grade have a greater than 80% chance of graduating from high school and becoming independent, self-sufficient adults.

The Children's Board and Your Tax Dollars: The Children's Board's highest priority is to earn your trust with how we spend your money. Since 1998 we have: Won hundreds of grant awards resulting in over $100 million in new money brought into Hillsborough County by "matching" Children's Board dollars to state, federal or private foundation dollars; trained more than 75 community organizations in business planning, resulting in many of these agencies generating their own sources of revenue and reducing their need for government funding; passed legislation that allowed local government entities like the Children's Board to use local tax dollars to match eligible federal dollars; and we have been audited every single year - in fact we received a perfect financial audit just last month.

Last year, the Children's Board implemented a new approach as to how we allocate funding. This approach requires each potential program to submit proposals and "compete" against each other for funding. We knew that some programs' proposals would not be successful. However, we firmly believe that this competitive process, together with our sharpened focus, will achieve maximum benefits for Hillsborough County. We also believe that this new approach will ultimately allow the Children's Board to reduce administrative costs and overhead.

Children's Board Staff Salaries: The Children's Board makes every effort to keep administrative overhead, which includes salaries, under 8%. The salaries of the staff at the Children's Board are determined in two ways. Most staff are paid pursuant to Hillsborough County Civil Service guidelines and those positions have an established salary range. Managerial salaries, including the CEO, are determined using national salary survey data. The average length of service for our managers is over twelve years and the average length of service for our civil service employees is just under ten years. When compared to similar positions in the county with the same length of service our salaries across both groups of employees are very similar.

In addition, none of the Children's Board employees have had a raise or cost of living adjustment in over three years and all staff have all been required to take days off without pay. In 2009, all managers took a voluntary 5% reduction in salary. Operating costs and administrative overhead have already dropped to lower levels through the elimination and freezing of vacant positions. Also, the Board Members have recently requested an audit to evaluate our personnel, staffing and human resources controls.

The Children's Board Building: We have been in our "new" building in Ybor City for almost eight years. We recovered the cost of building a new facility over leasing in less than six years. Since we opened our doors, over 300,000 citizens have visited to meet, celebrate, learn, and plan. Because our meeting rooms and parking are free, we estimate that the citizen groups that use our building save about $200,000 a year for a total cost savings of $1.6 million for the citizens of Hillsborough County.

The Children's Board Focus: The Children's Board historically focused on prevention. Over the last few years it became clear that most of our funding was being spent on more costly intervention and treatment services. When our budget began to drop due to the declining property tax base, the Board Members decided to require all programs to compete for funding and to focus almost entirely on funding prevention services and supports. It has recently been claimed that the Children's Board is "cutting" services. This is not accurate. We are requiring all programs to compete for continued funding consistent with the Children's Board mission so that the focus is on the services that will obtain the greatest return for your tax dollars.

This focus is consistent with the Children's Board mission for at least the last ten years - to make sure that every child in Hillsborough County is born healthy, is ready for school when they arrive and is reading at or above grade level by third grade. It is indisputable that children meeting these criteria have a greater than 80% chance of graduating from high school and becoming independent, self-sufficient adults.  

The Children's Board - Accountable and Transparent: The Children's Board is audited every year for financial controls and just last month we received a perfect audit. Four years ago we had a audit by Hillsborough County and were found to have model processes, procedures, and controls. We continually examine ways that we can save money, work more effectively and be more efficient.

Nothing is more important to the Board Members of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County than public trust. Nothing takes higher priority for us than being transparent and accountable to you, the residents of Hillsborough County. We strongly believe we are doing what you established us to do. We are grateful for the support we continue to receive and the opportunity to serve you better each and every day.

Posted: 4/30/2012
Fixes Bring McKay Bay to Life

TAMPA - East of downtown, past the cruise ships and dry docks, an appendage of Tampa Bay is bustling with construction.

McKay Bay is under renovation. When the work is complete, the drab reminder of reckless 1960s development again will provide suitable habitat for fish and wading birds.

The recontoured shoreline, with a new skirt of native grasses and mangroves, will help cleanse runoff headed from Palm River into the bay.

And a massive dredge hole at McKay Bay's center — it provided foundation material for Davis Islands and house foundations — will be filled in and ready to converge again with nearby mud flats. The Southwest Florida Water Management District, knows as Swiftmud, and the Tampa Port Authority are working together to complete the restoration projects.

At the mouth of Palm River, channelized and dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers a half century ago, thousands of invasive trees such as Brazilian pepper have been removed. A tidal pool being created there will provide habitat for aquatic creatures and plants, and 35 acres of restored uplands will be an agreeable environment for birds.

"The poor water quality in the estuary is due to the intense industrial and residential development in the McKay Bay watershed," said Kris Kaufman, an environmental scientist with the state's Surface Water Improvement and Management program. "Stormwater runoff and sediment contamination … have both contributed to poor water quality."

The SWIM scientists work in conjunction with the water management district.

Click here to read the entire story on TBO

Posted: 4/25/2012
Learning Gate Community School is 1 of 78 Schools in the US Listed as a Green Ribbon School

Winners represent a diverse portfolio of schools, includes 66 public and 12 private schools in urban and rural communities

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was joined today by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to announce the first-ever U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, a list including 78 schools that span 29 states and D.C.

The announcement was made during a visit to Stoddert Elementary School, one of D.C.’s two honorees.

“Science, environmental and outdoor education plays a central role in providing children with a well-rounded education, helping prepare them for the jobs of the future,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools demonstrate compelling examples of the ways schools can help children build real-world skillsets, cut school costs, and provide healthy learning environments.”

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) is a federal recognition program that opened in September 2011. Honored schools exercise a comprehensive approach to creating “green” environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students with the 21st century skills and sustainability concepts needed in the growing global economy.

"These Green Ribbon Schools are giving students and educators what they need to maximize learning and minimize risks like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ensuring that no child is burdened by pollution in or around their school," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Today's winners are protecting our children's health and opening up environmental education opportunities for students. The EPA is proud to help recognize the Green Ribbon award winners and will continue working to improve the environment of our nation’s schools and helping prepare students to succeed in the emerging green economy.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s “Green Ribbons” are one-year recognition awards. Next year’s competition will open in summer 2012. State agencies are encouraged to send their intents to submit nominees by June 15, 2012 via email to

Visit the Learning Gate Community School Site

Posted: 4/2/2012
Lowry Park Zoo Limited Time Offer!

For just $5 per person you can experience all the great things about the #1 Zoo in the U.S.A. See over 2,000 animals, enjoy exciting rides, feed the animals, and take in some educational shows. It’s great family fun at a really great price. Right here in your backyard at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Posted: 3/20/2012
Buckhorn Announces Expansion of Reclaimed Water Program

Tampa, FL March 16, 2012 - Buckhorn Announces Expansion of Reclaimed Water Program

Mayor Buckhorn announced plans to expand the reclaimed water program to residents on Bayshore Boulevard.

"Before the passage of HB 639 last week, we had no certainty that the reclaimed water Tampa’s taxpayers paid to produce would not be unilaterally redirected, but now, we know we can expand our reclaimed infrastructure without concern, thanks in large part to the efforts of Rep. Dana Young. I’m shifting my focus now to expanding our infrastructure so that more residents can use it to water their lawns, creating less of a demand on the Hillsborough River," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "And, we will begin by expanding our South Tampa Area Reclaimed program along Bayshore Boulevard later this year."

The expansion will occur along Bayshore Boulevard, connecting homes from Rome to Howard avenues to the reclaimed water infrastructure system. It will also be used to irrigate public parkways along Bayshore. This will aid in conserving Tampa's potable water supply and reduce wastewater discharge into Hillsborough Bay. In total, the City estimates that this will save nearly 22,000 gallons of potable water a day.

The completed project is estimated to cost $600,000. The City of Tampa has accepted a grant for $291,000 from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and will also spend $309,600. The project is scheduled to start in the fall of 2012. This expansion can be accomplished without removal of the asphalt on Bayshore.

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