Education & Academics in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater
Finding the right schools and educational opportunities for each family member is an important part of any move. This chapter outlines the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater area’s public schools system, private schools, charter schools and home schooling criteria, as well as local libraries and higher education institutions. To be enrolled in a Florida school, children must be 5 years old by Sept. 1 of the school year. Florida state law requires children who will be 6 years old by Feb. 1 of the school year to attend school regularly. For more information on compulsory attendance and other school information, visit the Florida Department of Education’s website at www.fldoe.org.
In addition, Florida requires all children entering school to have completed immunizations against polio, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella, varicella and hepatitis B. For more information on required immunizations, visit the Florida Department of Health website at www.floridahealth.gov.
In 2010, Florida, along with the majority of other states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Department of Defense Education Activity, adopted Common Core State Standards that provide a consistent set of educational expectations for students regardless of ZIP code. When a family moves, a student’s education is often disrupted because the student may be forced to repeat material or learn at a different level at the new school. With common standards across states, this disruption will be reduced — of particular interest to military families. At present, national Common Core State Standards exist only for English language arts and mathematics though Common Core Standards are being developed for other subjects such as science and social studies as well. For more information, visit www.corestandards.org.
Charter schools are public schools of choice that are tuition-free, serve all students and have open enrollment. Charter schools are one of the fastest-growing school choice options in Florida. There are more than 40 charter schools in the Hillsborough school district and more than 20 charter schools in the Pinellas school district. For more information about the charter schools in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Education Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice’s website at www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/charter-schools.
For an introduction to home schooling in Florida, visit the Florida Department of Education’s website at www.fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/other-school-choice-options/home-edu. You will find information on home-school requirements and regulations, support for home education and more.
Florida Parent-Educators Association
255 East Drive, Suite H
Melbourne, FL 32904
The Florida Parent-Educators Association provides support, guidance and information to thousands of Florida home-schooling families. The association helps home-schoolers network and share resources. Visit the association’s website for more information on home schooling in Florida, free resources and home schooling events.
To search for local private schools in Florida, visit the National Center for Education Statistics website and use the private school search tool at www.nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/privateschoolsearch. Users may search by location, religious affiliation, school type and more.
Choosing a School
Choosing the right school is very important, so be sure to research each one before deciding. Contact the school by phone or by visiting its website, which is a valuable source to learn about a school district statistics and curriculum. Talk to people in the area, especially friends and colleagues who already live there.
If the school shows promise, schedule a visit and bring a list of written questions about student-teacher ratios, computer availability, extracurricular activities, sports programs, music programs, gifted programs and grading standards.
Discuss the potential school with your child: what they liked and what they didn’t like. Your family’s ability to readily adapt to a move and to find happiness in your new home may depend, in part, on how happy your children are in their new school.
Hillsborough County Public Schools
901 E. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33602
One of the largest school districts in the state and the eighth-largest in the nation, Hillsborough County Public Schools district serves more than 200,000 students with more than 25,000 employees. The district has over 200 schools, including elementary, middle and high schools, as well as two K-8 schools, four career centers, four HiTEC schools and 43 charters.
The district offers career and technical education programs for specialized training that can lead to high-wage, high-skill jobs and postsecondary education. Magnet schools offer theme-based, technology-rich programs taught by specially trained educators in smaller classes. The district’s charter schools, which are independent public schools operated by nonprofit organizations, are another alternative to traditional public schools in the district.
The district also offers before- and after-school programs, providing students in kindergarten through eighth grade with learning activities, as well as snacks and field trips. For more information on these programs, visit http://host.mysdhc.org or call 813-744-8941, ext. 3.
Pinellas County Schools
301 Fourth St. SW
Largo, FL 33770
The seventh-largest district in Florida and the 26th-largest in the United States serves more than 100,000 students with just under 13,000 full-time employees. The district’s 150 schools include elementary, middle and high schools, as well as charter schools, magnet schools, a virtual school and other alternative options.
The district offers a wide variety of programs for special interest areas. District Application Programs include themed programs, career programs and fundamental programs, such as journalism and multimedia studies, culinary arts, graphic arts, engineering programs, medical professions programs and more.
Other district school options include fundamental schools and career academies. Fundamental schools are family-oriented schools with a structured environment, an updated “back-to-basics” approach and joint parent-teacher-student commitment. This approach includes a focus on student self-responsibility and discipline, daily homework, a strict dress code, mandatory conferences and monthly parent meetings. Career academies are four-year programs that blend a student’s required academic courses with the career technical
program of the academy. The career technical programs prepare students for national and industry certifications, postsecondary education, entry into their chosen career and scholarships.
The area features a number of traditional four-year universities and two-year community colleges, as well as technical and vocational schools. The following is a list of colleges in the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater region.
Everest University — Tampa
3319 W. Hillsborough Ave.
Tampa, FL 33614
5225 Memorial Highway
Tampa, FL 33634
Hillsborough Community College
P.O. Box 31127
Tampa, FL 33631
Hillsborough Community College has five primary campus locations, three satellite locations and a distance learning program. MacDill AFB is the site of its Education Center at 8102 Condor St., Building 252.
National Louis University — Tampa
5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
Tampa, FL 33634
Pinellas Technical College
6100 154th Ave. N
Clearwater, FL 33760
St. Petersburg Campus
901 34th St. S
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Saint Leo University
8102 Condor St.
Albert B. Arrighi Education Center, Suite 116
MacDill AFB, FL 33621
St. Petersburg College
P.O. Box 13489
St. Petersburg, FL 33733
St. Petersburg College has multiple campuses and centers in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Pinellas Park and other Florida locales.
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, FL 33620
University of Tampa
401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606
Public libraries in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties offer learning, recreation, distance education, internet connections and other sources for users, and all for free. In addition, school libraries that support the curriculum and offer internet access and additional resources are in most public and private schools, and academic and special libraries are found in colleges and universities.
For a full list of libraries in Florida, visit the Florida Department of State Division of Library & Information Services’ website at www.dos.myflorida.com/library-archives.
Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative
900 N. Ashley Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
The cooperative manages 30 libraries. Services include a bookmobile, a cybermobile, computer classes, educational seminars and programs for children, teens and adults. Visit the cooperative’s website for a detailed list of services and programs, library locations and operating hours.
Pinellas Public Library Cooperative
1330 Cleveland St.
Clearwater, FL 33755
The cooperative oversees 26 libraries. Services include programs for all ages, computer classes and a digital bookmobile, which promotes downloadable e-books, audiobooks, music and video. Visit the cooperative’s website for a detailed list of services and programs, library locations and operating hours.