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Fundamental school parents keeping tabs on Pinellas board candidates



Pinellas School Board elections are typically low-turnout affairs, so a motivated, energized block can make a big difference. It remains to be seen whether fundamental school parents, who organized with urgency last fall, will be such a force. But there's no doubt they're listening closely to what the candidates are saying, and no doubt that fundamental schools have emerged as an issue.

The Fundamental Schools Advocacy Network compiled the candidates' statements on fundamental schools for a recent e-mail blast, reprinted below. The group says it's not planning to endorse candidates.

2010 Candidates for School Board
Contact information from
(Supervisor of Elections)
The St. Petersburg Times asked each of the candidates the following question:  Parents are clamoring for more fundamental schools in Pinellas, and at least three high schools have asked to be next in line to go fundamental. Do you support the expansion of fundamental schools? Under what conditions?  Each candidates' answer is listed below (with emphasis added by FAN.)
Additional information from the candidates' website is included if the candidate specifically mentions Fundamental Schools (with emphasis added by FAN.)

District 2-- Voted Countywide
Fonda Huff
My passion is to bring the safe fundamental schools with parent involvement to Pinellas County. This issue is the main reason I decided to run for Pinellas County School Board.Teachers in education know that the most successful student is the one that the parent is involved. The only condition would be that the teachers and administrators of the schools chosen want the fundamental schools. As you stated, that would not be a problem because three high schools want to go fundamental as soon as possible.
I believe in the fundamental system so much that my daughter drives my granddaughter 30 to 40 minutes one way to school every day. According to the numbers reported, there are many students on the waiting list to be admitted in to a fundamental school. I also began, like many other parents and grandparents, wondering where my granddaughter and her classmates were going to attend school when they reached high school since there is only one fundamental high school. As a board member I would like to work to give the parents what they want, more fundamental schools closer to their neighborhoods. This would also help the district budget because in the elementary schools money is saved on bussing because the parents supply transportation. Large/350757829494?v=photos#!/pages/Fonda-Huff-for-Pinellas-County-School-Board-District-2-At-Large/350757829494?v=info
Terry B. Krassner
The school district needs to constantly ensure programs at all schools match parent and student interests. There is a demand for more fundamental schools, and the district should meet that demand with more fundamental school offerings. It is important that the attractors that draw families and students to fundamental schools and other popular programs be identified and implemented in all schools.
District 3-- Voted Countywide
Greg Hunsinger
My belief in transparency in decision making, shared responsibility with parents and school, and a consistent and uniform discipline code would make most schools within our district meet the definition of what is known as fundamental schools. Fundamental schools are characterized by increased parental involvement, stricter discipline codes and higher student expectations. Isn't that what all parents want and should expect in all of our public schools? Students perform to expectations. By raising student expectations, strengthening discipline and increasing parental involvement all our schools essentially become fundamental schools. As a classroom teacher, this has been my belief and position all along.
Peggy O'Shea

When the issue of more fundamental high school seats came to the Board last year, it was proposed as a way of expanding the options around the county including the "school within a school" concept. I supported the idea, but wanted it as part of the larger discussion of high school re-design. Every time you change the student assignments and capacity of a school, it impacts every other school zone. As I mentions earlier, I want to have the discussion of fundamental as well as other options for high schools. Since the earlier discussion, funadmental (sic) advocates have approached the three high schools to become fully fundamental. We need to see if we have the demand and which way to approach the expansion. This discussion is scheduled to begin on July 6th.  (FAN note: The School Board did NOT discuss this on July 6th and Mrs. O'Shea did not push for the discussion.)
District 6--Mid-County area
Brian David Hawley
I am a huge proponent of the fundamental model, but not necessarily separate fundamental schools. To say we are going to implement proper, tested educational practices at a few select schools, to the exclusion of the others, is to admit that we are offering second hand education at all those schools not involved.
Like charter schools, separate fundamental schools partition the system into an unfair playing field. These schools are permitted to select from a group of involved students and parents and have the ability to send out those who do not perform. The fact that they outperform their counterparts becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as they are receiving a better population of student, and the other schools have a population with more endemic challenges. This partitioned system cannot be the overall vision for public education.
As mentioned earlier, I see a system where the fundamental model is established in all schools. Those who cannot/will not perform under this model would be tracked early into a school model that better meets their specific needs.
However, as it stands, we are NOT offering these conditions in all our schools, and it is understandable that there are waiting lists to get into the fundamental schools that are available. In this light, I would be in favor of creating as many fundamentals as possible as this would be closer to the holistic fundamental model described above than not having any at all.
Linda Lerner
I support Board discussion about the possibility of more fundamental schools. This discussion must be part of a complete review of possible school changes for 2010-11 including a projected $53 million budget cut which may result in the closing of more schools. With three high schools submitting applications to go fundamental, it is necessary for the Superintendent and Board to make a decision about the high school issue. I especially would like to consider this change to fundamental for one of our four high schools in the differentiated accountability state oversight situation.  (FAN note: During the July 6th workshop, Mrs. Lerner pressed the other School Board Members to move forward with the process to expand Fundamental High School opportunities.)
District 7-- Greater St. Petersburg area
Keisha Bell
Yes, especially if this expansion would result in bringing a fundamental high school to District 7.
(Goals) To create a Fundamental High School in District 7.
James "Jim" Jackson
Improving the number of fundamental schools at all levels appears to be a great idea to improve the basic skill levels of students. Fundamental schools are very similar to the schools I attended as a child, as well as the ones that my two grown sons and my granddaughter attended in Miami. The fundamental school appeal is great for parents that can make the commitment to make sure a student is at school on time, does their homework and they are able to sign off on the homework every day. This contract has not been the best for everyone. The length of the list of students waiting to enter a fundamental school correlates with the quality of education students are receiving in our traditional schools. The cost is greater for operating the fundamental schools, and that is a factor the school board needs to consider. (FAN note:  This is INCORRECT.  In fact, Fundamental Schools save the district money.)  Resources still need to be in the budget to bring traditional schools up to the standards that have been set.
My wife and I were both educators and we had the opportunity to pick the schools and teachers which served our sons. That is not an option for many of our parents who currently have children in the Pinellas County system. The lottery system is great for those students who get lucky, but many other parents find their children being excluded from good programs.
I am in full agreement with the concept of fundamental schools that will include "teaching across the curriculum" and still make sure all students get some art and music. Those programs are some of the biggest draws for the creative student that has yet to shine in the basic skill areas
(Top Issues) * Improve access to fundamental schools and magnet programs.
Lewis "Lew" Williams
My children attended fundamental schools and yes they work! I support the expansion of fundamental schools. The location of such schools is very important.
Since al (sic) of the schools will not be fundamental in nature, we should look at ways of implementing some of the practices of our fundamental schools in ALL schools. I am always concerned about the possibility of depleting some schools of the role models they currently have. I believe all children have the capability to learn, we just have to find (help them to find) that trigger.

[Last modified: Thursday, July 29, 2010 4:49pm]


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