The United School Employees of Pascowill have its first new president in 15 years this spring: Lynne Webb, the USEP’s president since 1999, has decided not to seek reelection.
"I feel like it is time for this union to have new leadership," said Webb, 57, who started teaching at Moore-Mickens Middle School in 1982. "The time is right."
She does not plan to immediately retire, though. "I am going to serve, not in a year-round capacity, as a liaison with the new president and the staff," she said.
Webb also plans to retain her post as president of the West Central Florida Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
“I will always be involved in the labor movement, one way or another,” she said. “Union work has been like my religion.”
The USEP is collecting nominations for the post through Dec. 19, with the vote to begin at the end of February. No candidates have formally stepped forward, although the election is expected to be draw several hopefuls.
School Board chairwoman Alison Crumbley praised Webb for her years of service to the union. …Full Story
With strong support from Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco, the Pasco school district has begun working to create a new police academy at its Marchman Technical Education Center in New Port Richey.
District construction workers have started converting office and classroom space at Marchman, including asbestos abatement, to get the initiative moving quickly, assistant superintendent Ray Gadd told the School Board this week. Officials also are putting together an application to the state panels responsible for reviewing and approving new law enforcement training centers.
There's no guarantee the district will get state approval for the academy, Gadd advised. But if it does, he said, "I feel confident can meet all the criteria. ... I am convinced this would be a good thing for the school system."
He asked the board for its support before turning anything in. Board members gave their blessing with a simple head nod. Stay tuned.Full Story
FUN AND GAMES: Pasco Gulf High School prepares to launch a career academy focused on the gaming industry.
GOVERNANCE ISSUES: Hillsborough district officials recommend denial of a charter school at MacDill AFB, citing concerns within the application.
BIG MONEY: USF president Judy Genshaft nets a $166,250 stipend for her strong performance.
TOP OF THE CLASS: Suncoast Elementary reading program promotes connections through books • Hard work pays off for Hudson Middle School trumpeter • Westside Elementary students learn benefits of kindness during Bullying Prevention Week
TEACHER EVALUATIONS: It's time to get real about education reform, columnist John Romano writes. • Some Escambia parents question how F-rated schools can have their teachers evaluated as "effective" and "highly effective," WEAR-TV reports.
AWARD TIME: The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations gives its top superintendent award to Broward's Robert Runcie, CBS Miami reports. • Florida's superintendent association names Miami-Dade's Alberto Carvalho as its Superintendent of the Year, the Miami Herald reports. …Full Story
Pinellas County Schools and its teachers union reached an agreement Thursday to pay teachers up to $29 an hour to work with students before and after school next year, the union chief tells Gradebook.
The new sum is well above the approximate $15 teachers are making now. Instead, teachers will make their base hourly salary - minus the referendum dollars that pad the Pinellas budget - so long as that total does not exceed $29.
Kim Black, president of the Pinellas County Classroom Teachers, also says there will be back-pay for current extended-learning teachers; they'll end up having made $20 an hour this school year. Teachers who work at career and tech centers in addition to their full-time teaching positions will also make $20 an hour for the extra work.
"This is good news. This is what the teachers have been waiting to hear," Black said. "The ($15) range was extremely outdated and not appropriate for these times, so we're moving in the right direction." …Full Story
The University of South Florida Board of Trustees Thursday approved a $166,250 performance bonus for USF president Judy Genshaft this year.
Per her contract, Genshaft is eligible for up to a $175,000 annual performance stipend each year. It's a way to incorporate performance into her overall compensation package, board members said. The USF Board of Trustees Compensation Committee recommended Genshaft get $122,500, the full amount the committee was allowed to determine. Board chair John Ramil determined how much she would get out of the remaining dollars.
Board members reviewed goals the university met or didn't meet from July 2012 to June 2013. Highlights were research gains, a $621 million fundraising campaign and faculty awards. Shortcomings came from freshman retention and SAT scores at USF St. Petersburg, and post-doctoral appointees for the whole system.
Ramil talked to students, faculty, elected leaders and members of Florida's Board of Governors to get an overall assessment of how Genshaft performed this year.
"I am so pleased," Genshaft said after the board vote. "Thank you so much." …Full Story
Incoming freshmen in Pinellas County could find that their honor courses are worth a little less toward their grade-point averages than college-level courses offered at the high schools.
Superintendent Mike Grego said in February that he would consider changing the weighting system to make honor courses worth more than regular classes, but a little less than more rigorous Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes. The current system gives more weight to honors, AP, IB and dual-enrollment classes.
The Times wrote about the issue when it came up in February. The School Board will consider the policy change during its regular meeting Tuesday. The change would be first-read only; another vote would be required for final approval.
The proposed change, which would affect ninth graders in the 2014/15 school year, could affect class rankings and scholarships. It also could encourage more students to take college-level classes, such as AP. Students who entered ninth grade this year wouldn't see any change to the weighting system.
To see the proposed policy change, click here and go to policy 5420.03.Full Story
After some construction delays, the Lew Williams Center for Early Learning is expected to open in January at PTEC in St. Petersburg. The Times wrote an update about the project in October.
The School Board will take another step Tuesday toward opening the center, the first of its kind for the Pinellas school system. Board members are expected to approve a job description for a program coordinator for the center. The program coordinator will report to the executive program manager and work as a second in command.
The job description calls for someone with a bachelor's degree or better in elementary or early childhood education with certification in early childhood education. The coordinator also must have experience with preschool or kindergarten curriculum.
The Lew Williams center was named in honor of former Board member Lew Williams, who died in Dec. 2011. The center is expected to offer full-time childcare for low-income families. It will open with eight classrooms and room for more than 100 children.
The center plans to serve children ages 1 to 4.Full Story
A Florida state senator who's also a Miami-Dade teacher and vocal opponent of the state's "education reform" efforts has filed a bill seeking to put off the full effect of a recently adopted teacher evaluation law for another year.
Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard submitted his bill one day after the Department of Education released preliminary data showing that about 98 percent of all Florida teachers were rated "effective" or "highly effective" for their performance in 2012, with 0.2 percent considered "unsatisfactory." Those results prompted many organizations to question the value of the evaluations, which were to replace a model that had been criticized for having essentially the same outcomes.
These new evaluations are scheduled to be used, beginning next year, to determine performance salary schedules and employment renewal decisions. Bullard has proposed that such use be put off until 2015-16, which would give lawmakers and other officials an opportunity to review and improve the system. Many school districts, including Pinellas and Pasco, already have begun making changes to their evaluation programs. …Full Story
SCHOOL SECURITY: Hillsborough's school police chief steps down as the district embarks upon an ambitious plan to expand the department.
AGREEMENT REACHED: The Hillsborough School Board votes to pay $500,000 to the family of a girl with autism who drowned behind her school after walking away from class.
INSPIRATION: The Patel Conservatory hires a music therapist to instruct students with special needs.
TEACHER EVALUATIONS: Florida's evaluation model holds almost no one accountable and should be replaced, the Times editorializes. • Another year of nearly all Florida teachers being rated as effective or better leads to questions of whether the system is flawed, the Florida Times-Union reports. • The state needs evaluations that inform people rather than confusing them, the Bradenton Herald editorializes.
SMALL SAMPLE: Alachua officials note that none of their students took the PISA tests that are being used to compare students internationally, the Gainesville Sun reports.
HIGH TECH: A private middle/high school becomes Brevard's first campus to fully move from paper to tablet technology for all students, Florida Today reports. …Full Story
MacDill Air Force Base
Col. Scott V. DeThomas
And the decision on
is --- we still don’t know.
school district staff has been working on recommendations for this year's batch of charter school applications.
These approvals are on the agenda for Tuesday’s School Board meeting:
· Village of
Campus, School II
· Lutz Preparatory Middle School; and
Virtual Academy at
There is no recommendation for
, just a note that says “Supplemental Materials Pending.”
The MacDill project has received unusual attention from both the local base commander, Col. Scott DeThomas; and Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. Both appeared before the
Bay Times editorial board in November, DeThomas saying the school is needed for military families and Elia countering that the district can meet their needs.
would run the school, serving 875 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. …Full Story
The Times reported in October that University Preparatory Academy, the new charter school in Midtown St. Petersburg, had failed to enact several key provisions of its charter.
Of note, University Prep did not have a local advisory board, which was supposed to help choose the school's principal. Cheri Shannon, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit behind University Prep, instead became the principal. Meanwhile, dozens of children were withdrawing from the school and returning to struggling Pinellas neighborhood schools.
Now, University Prep has organized its local board. Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up for Students, the nonprofit that administers school vouchers, is serving as chairman (he's also the guy behind bringing Shannon to Pinellas and, specifically, the former site of Southside Fundamental Middle).
Tuthill said the local board has met for seven hours over the past two weeks, interviewing 13 candidates by phone for the principal position. …Full Story
Seminole Middle School is expected to get a new principal next week.
Wendy Bryan, principal of Frontier Elementary, has been appointed to the position by superintendent Mike Grego. The position was open after Grego promoted Thomas Lechner to head of technology last month. District officials say the position was advertised for a week and 12 applicants applied. Five of those were interviewed.
The School Board will vote on the appointment Tuesday during its regular board meeting. Board members are expected to sign off on administrative appointments unless the appointee is unqualified. If approved, Bryan will move to the position Dec. 11.
She has been in education since 1991, working as a substitute teacher, a classroom teacher, a behavior intervention specialist, assistant principal and principal. She has spent her career in Pinellas.
Bryan earned a bachelor's degree in English education, a master's degree in special education and a certificate in education leadership, all from the University of South Florida.Full Story
Dade City community members sought to honor longtime school administrator Tom Rulison, who died in June, by dedicating and renaming the Centennial Middle School gym after him. Rulison was Centennial's first principal, serving there until his 2009 retirement.
The naming appeared clear for approval, until School Board member Cynthia Armstrong raised a question about the wording of the action item. She wanted to know why the proposal stated the dedication would be for "a period of time to be specified by the board."
Did the board have to set an expiration date for the name Thomas E. Rulison Gymnasium, Armstrong wondered. Would it be left to future boards to determine whether they want to change the name again?
She noted that district policy for namings and dedications only directed that tributes be approved by the board, and did not say anything about time frames. Without clear answers, superintendent Kurt Browning asked for more time to research the issue, saying the vote could wait. The board then voted to table the item until its Dec. 17 meeting, where it expected to convey the honor on Mr. Rulison.Full Story
Pasco school district officials had high hopes that selling ads on websites and other property could generate a steady stream of needed revenue for schools and programs.
A study committee doused that idea Tuesday, reporting to the School Board that, in the words of superintendent Kurt Browning, the juice isn't worth the squeeze.
"The district is not where it needs to be to make this viable," assistant superintendent Ray Gadd told the board.
The committee looked at the advertising efforts of districts in Florida and Arizona, and discovered that Pasco County does not have some of the assets that the others rely upon, such as a large metro area, schools with enrollments over 3,000, and major attractions in the vicinity. The other districts also dedicated six or more staff members to the work, and even so ran into roadblocks that led to declining revenue over time, said Nicole Westmoreland, a food services manager who led the study.
At its height, Orange County generated $2.27 per student before expenses, or $420,000 in that year. Pasco's collection would be less than half that amount, if all other factors were identical, which officials made clear they are not. …Full Story
TOP MARKS: Nearly all Florida teachers receive "effective" or "highly effective" ratings in their latest evaluations, raising questions about the changes to the system. More from the Ocala Star-Banner, Sun-Sentinel, Naples Daily News
HANDS OFF: A Pasco mom sees swift action as she demands that her daughter's school put an end to "slap ass Fridays."
SEARCH TEAM: The Flagler district creates an advisory panel to help guide its superintendent search, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.
PRIVATE SUPPORT: The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida launches an ambitious fund raising effort to support public schools, Florida Trend reports.
BIG HIT: The financially struggling Manatee school district could see its general fund balance shrink by $7.2 million as the result of a state audit, the Bradenton Herald reports. More from the Herald-Tribune.
QUESTIONABLE LOAN: Miami-Dade auditors investigate how a local charter school could provide public money to an unaccredited private college, the Miami Herald reports.
DECORATIONS DOWNSIDE: More than 100 students at a Volusia elementary school can't use their classrooms after a Christmas tree fire, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. …Full Story