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How One School District is Coping With the Convention

By Nirvi Shah — August 26, 2012 2 min read
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With the Gulf of Mexico’s waters churning, myriad street closures in Tampa, Fla., because the Republican National Convention’s in town, and nearly 200,000 students in the early days of the 2012-13 school year, what’s a school district to do?

Plan to close a school or two, put police officers on some school buses, relocate school district staff—and prepare for the worst. Already, convention events for Monday have been canceled. The district, and at least a half-dozen others across the state, decided Sunday to close all of its schools in case the wind and wetness from Isaac’s storm turn into something worse than an inconvenience.

(Convention officials decided Sunday to compress the four days of events into three, canceling most of Monday’s events other than the launch of a second debt clock that will calculate how much the U.S. deficit grows over the period of the convention.)

In anticipation of the week’s activities, the Hillsborough County school district, which encompasses Tampa and has miles of coastline along Tampa Bay, set up a web page devoted to its plans for the convention.

Almost two dozen departments, including the superintendent’s office, payroll, and the school board’s, have been temporarily relocated away from downtown Tampa. Sam Rampello Downtown Partnership School opened Aug. 15—a week before the rest of the district—and will be closed the week of the convention. It’s just a half-mile from the convention site. The district will provide free child care for students at the K-8 school, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

And for three schools that draw students from Harbour Island, which is separated from the convention site by a sliver of water, school buses will be staffed with security officers to help the buses through Republican National Committee checkpoints. All three have nascent Twitter feeds that are attempting to keep parents in the loop.

That said, dozens of roads encircling the convention site are closed, and already traffic-heavy downtown Tampa will be a mess at the site where some 15,000 members of the media, more than 4,000 delegates and alternates, plus the Republican glitterati, are converging.

Some snags are expected, the district says, even though the district has been planning for the convention with Republican National Convention staff, police, and Tampa city staff for close to a year.

Meanwhile, adjoining Pinellas County, which has miles of Gulf of Mexico coastline and is host to some convention-related events, has closed schools in its 104,000-student district for Monday.

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