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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Pinellas postpones UF partnership at magnet school

Forget what you read and heard. It looks like the Pinellas County School District is delaying, for a year, a partnership with the University of Florida to create a "lab" school at struggling Melrose Elementary.

All signs - including the district web site, the district programs guide and a meeting Superintendent Julie Janssen and district staff had with Melrose staff about a month ago - pointed to the venture starting up this fall, even though, as far as we can tell, it had not been approved by the school board. District administrators told Melrose staff they would have to reapply for their jobs.

But Superintendent Julie Janssen and top district staff visited Melrose this morning and told employees that the district and UF will now take a year to plan the school's makeover, said principal Oscar Robinson, who attended the meeting.

They also told staffers they would not have to reapply for now, he said. 

"I feel like they were relieved," Robinson told The Gradebook. "They weren't sure whether they were going to be working next year."

The Melrose/UF idea came up last fall when Janssen unveiled her student assignment plan. It was not among the new programs that the school board ultimately approved in December, yet appeared to gather steam up through the recent employees meeting.

Robinson said the details have not been clear. Generally speaking, he said, it involved infusing a lot more professional development into the school. There was mention of a part-time "professor in residence." The magnet - the Center for Journalism and Multimedia Studies - would not be affected.

Robinson, who is retiring after three years at the school, said he likes the idea. But he also said the district should have moved quicker to let staff and parents know changes were coming.

In related news, Robinson said the school's FCAT numbers do not look good. He said it's likely Melrose will be under increased state oversight next year. He said it might get an F grade.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 11:33am]


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