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Pasco report cards may come out later for second quarter

By Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times Staff
Published: December 4, 2017 Updated: December 6, 2017 at 10:49 AM

Pasco County students are supposed to get their second quarter report cards on Jan. 16.

The only problem is, the School Board recently rejected a proposed change to the district’s testing schedule that would have allowed that date to work. Board members argued that students should be testing through the end of the semester, not wasting the final day of the term just so teachers can get grading done.

To follow the board’s wishes, the administration has now recommended a slight change to the plan. Instead of sending out report cards on that Tuesday, the staff wants to distribute them on Jan. 19.

That change would give teachers adequate contracted time to complete the report cards, and then get them printed and delivered, the staff said.

The shift won’t necessarily mean students will be taking a test on Dec. 22, though.

"I’m not going to micromanage teachers and say you have to give tests on Thursday or Friday," superintendent Kurt Browning said.

But if they’re not giving exams, he said, they also better not be wasting time on meaningless activities — something the board fretted over when discussing the testing schedule.

"I hope they’re going to be teaching," Browning said. "I don’t want us to take the last week and just do worksheets. We need to be teaching our kids."

PRINCIPAL SHIFT: The Pasco County school district has advertised two elementary school principal openings, as two longtime leaders plan to retire in the coming months.

The superintendent’s staff has recommended moving Gulfside Elementary principal Jeanne Krapfl to Deer Park Elemetary, where Margie Polen is leaving after seven years in charge.

Polen has worked for the district since 1999, running several elementary schools including Gulf Highlands and Shady Hills during her tenure. She recently received some attention for her efforts to change Deer Park’s behavior system.

Krapfl has led Gulfside since spring 2016, after a three-year stint running Cypress Elementary. The Gulfside job is now posted, along with one for New River Elementary.

Lynn Pabst, the only principal New River has ever known, announced in October her plan to retire in January after 33 years with the district.

District officials said they intend to have replacements for both Pabst and Krapfl before they leave their schools.

LOBBYING POWER: The abrupt fall departure of Spencer Pylant, the Pasco County school district’s first full-time lobbyist, left the administration scrambling for representation as lawmakers held committee meetings in advance of their early 2018 session. Now the district, which has a fairly aggressive set of legislative priorities, has landed two Tallahassee veterans to help promote its views.

Superintendent Kurt Browning selected a group with Kim McDougal, Gov. Rick Scott’s former chief of staff and legislative director, to advocate the district’s positions through June. McDougal is senior government affairs director for GrayRobinson, a Tallahassee-based law firm that was one of three to interview for the part-time job.

Before joining Scott’s staff, she worked in the Department of Education, and previously advised Jeb Bush.

"Because of the urgency to have representation for the upcoming committee week and session, this matter will not be brought to the Board for action," Browning told board members in a recent email. "It is well within the cap allowing the superintendent to act."

At the same time, district public information officer Linda Cobbe announced she has offered Pylant’s old job to Wayne Bertsch, an Orlando-based independent government consultant.

A one-time Leon County Soil and Conservation District supervisor, Bertsch has worked on several political campaigns and spent 11 years as lobbyist for the Florida Home Builders Association.

"I think you’ll all like him and we’ll benefit from his experience and Tallahassee connections," Cobbe told the board in a separate email. "His start date will be January 8th, and he will immediately go to Tallahassee for the session."

SCHOOL CHOICE: Families interested in sending their children to Pasco County’s magnet schools can submit applications through Jan. 12.

The options include a STEAM magnet at Sanders Memorial Elementary, STEM magnets at Centennial and Bayonet Point middle schools, and the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme at Pine View Middle.

Students currently enrolled in those programs do not have to reapply, unless they live outside Pasco County. The technical school at Ridgewood High is not included in this submission window, and will have its own application period later.

For more information about how to apply, visit the district website, www.pasco.k12.fl.us/ed_choice/magnet.