Monday, June 25, 2018

Application window for gifted Midtown Academy could open this spring

Are you a south Pinellas County parent of a gifted student seeking full-time gifted services? Stuck on the wait list for Ridgecrest Elementary? Or, if you're already at Ridgecrest, are you tired of driving to Largo?

Don't hold your breath, but the Pinellas County school district is exploring the possibility of opening up a second application period this spring for south county gifted students to enroll at Midtown Academy, which could become a full-time gifted elementary school beginning this August.

Deputy superintendent Bill Corbett shared the news at a Concerned Organization for the Quality of Black Students (COQEBS) meeting Wednesday morning at the Enoch Davis Center in St. Petersburg. The group asked district officials to present on the status of Midtown Academy, currently a choice Kindergarten through eighth grade school that has struggled academically and faces dwindling enrollment.

Pinellas County School Board members at a workshop last week were in favor of closing the middle school and reassigning those in sixth and seventh grade out of the 78 students left, claiming that the lack of a well-rounded curriculum was a disservice to students.

Board members, however, weren't sold on turning the school into a gifted center for students in grades 1 through 5, similar to Ridgecrest.

The district is not accepting any Kindergarten students at Midtown Academy and would grandfather in the current 190 students in first through fourth grades. Those students would be taught standard curriculum and would be separate from gifted students who would get full-time gifted services.

If discussion is favorable at a March 20 workshop, then a policy could go before the board for a first reading at a board meeting April 10. If passed, the district would hold a second application period for south county families of gifted students to enroll this August.

The school, formerly home to Southside Fundamental Middle, has a capacity of about 500 students. Its application zone would mirror that of the south county gifted middle school, Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle.

Corbett also said the district would consider expanding the proximity preference beyond the standard 20 percent cap to take in more gifted students who live closest to the school.

The district has not selected a site for a north county gifted center, although that could come in 2019.

Corbett said there are about 1,400 gifted students zoned for south county schools, yet just 9 percent of Ridgecrest's gifted enrollment comes from that area.  He said the district would aim to have about a third of those south county gifted students enroll at Midtown if approved by the board.

Former St. Petersburg mayoral candidate and community activist Theresa "Momma Tee" Lassiter said at the meeting that she is against the district's efforts to change Midtown Academy. She said the district's hustle to convert the failed charter school into a district-run school two weeks before the 2016-17 school year was a "lifeline."

"Fix what you got here and not inconvenience these parents any more," she said.

Comments
On the campaign trail: For Hillsborough County School Board

On the campaign trail: For Hillsborough County School Board

These are the candidates who qualified Friday for the Hillsborough County School Board elections in August and November 2018.District 1, northwest Hillsborough and Town 'N Country:This is a special election to replace Susan Valdes, who resigned, effe...
Published: 06/22/18
Updated: 06/23/18
Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Newcomers seek to topple incumbents in Pinellas School Board races

Thirteen candidates will vie for four seats on the Pinellas County School Board this year, as the two hopefuls qualified just before Friday's noon deadline.Three incumbents, including the board's leader and vice chair, aim to keep their seats amid a ...
Published: 06/22/18
Seven candidates qualify for Hernando County School Board races

Seven candidates qualify for Hernando County School Board races

Seven candidates have lined up in races for three seats open on the Hernando County School Board, including incumbents Mark Johnson and Susan Duval.Johnson, who was elected to the board's District 1 seat in 2014, faces challenger ...
Published: 06/22/18
Ballot set for Pasco County School Board races

Ballot set for Pasco County School Board races

Ten candidates qualified to run for three Pasco County School Board seats as the ballot officially closed at noon Friday.All of them had announced their plans well in advance, and rumors of a last-minute hopeful never materialized.The District 5 race...
Published: 06/22/18
Ridgewood High saw little improvement in final year of state testing

Ridgewood High saw little improvement in final year of state testing

As Pasco County school district officials discussed converting Ridgewood High School into a technical school, some leaders kept asking one question: What if the school actually improved its academic performance, making the change unnecessary?The scho...
Published: 06/22/18
Florida education news: Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, immigrant education, tutoring troubles and more

Florida education news: Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit, immigrant education, tutoring troubles and more

TAKE A KNEE: Lawyers for the Pasco County school district say students do not have an unqualified, clearly established right to kneel during the daily pledge to the flag, rebutting a family's lawsuit contending otherwise.SUMMER LEARNING: So...
Published: 06/22/18
Pasco County report cards going virtual

Pasco County report cards going virtual

Pasco County parents should not check the mailbox for their children's report cards this summer.The grades are coming online only.After months of planning, the district will release fourth-quarter report cards in the online MyStudent grading system, ...
Published: 06/21/18
Pasco school district rebuts family’s Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit

Pasco school district rebuts family’s Pledge of Allegiance lawsuit

Lawyers for the Pasco County school district say the principal of Wiregrass Elementary School and a first grade teacher there did nothing wrong in their treatment of a student who took a knee while his classmates recited the Pledge of Allegiance last...
Published: 06/21/18
Florida education news: Superintendents, test scores, school safety and more

Florida education news: Superintendents, test scores, school safety and more

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Hernando County School Board quickly moves ahead in seeking a new district leader after dumping Lori Romano.BUDGET GAP: Pasco County school district leaders anticipate a budget shortfall as they work to meet new state ...
Published: 06/21/18
Florida education news: New candidates, school security and a suspended PTSA

Florida education news: New candidates, school security and a suspended PTSA

ELECTIONS: A former county official joins the race for a seat on Hernando County School Board, the Tampa Bay Times reports. • In Hillsborough County, one candidate for School Board changes parties and another changes races, the Tampa Bay Times ...
Published: 06/19/18