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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

School uniforms among a long list of Pinellas are the ones we left out



Ok, so you now know Pinellas superintendent Julie Janssen has proposed school uniforms among a long list of changes that are likely to affect student assignment. (And if you don't, see today's story here.) Since newspapers only have so much space, there were several suggestions we couldn't fit in the story this morning.

Here are some of the things we left out. (The Gradebook was able to tease some of them yesterday after looking at Janssen's planned power point presentation. But now we have a lot better explanation for most of them):

* Redesign Clearwater and Lealman intermediate centers to serve only students who haven't met all the requirements to rise from fifth- to sixth-grade or eighth- to ninth-grade. The hope is that these programs will provide the instruction kids will need to be promoted to the the next grade in a timely fashion without, ultimately, being left behind by their peers.

* Create what the administration calls "ninth grade centers" at each high school. Already in place in some schools, these centers seek to isolate ninth graders in their own part of the campus, largely with the goal of giving them the extra support they might need during their transition to high school. "We believe that could help us get our students in and then caught up," Janssen said.

* Expand AVID programs at all middle and high schools and explore adding it to the fiftth grade. Right now, the program (which stands for Advancement via Individual Determination) is in 23 Pinellas schools. Its purpose is to prepare students heretofore considered to be in the "academic middle" for college by giving them study skills needed to help them rise to the challenge of more rigorous courses like Advanced Placement, etc. Bill Lawrence, who oversees gifted and magnet programs for the district, said administrators are looking at how well other districts have implemented AVID in the fifth-grade.

* Expand virtual school to all school levels, from high school to middle school and down as far as the fifth grade.

* Extend the school day and/or school year at some schools where student test scores indicate a need for more instructional time. Right now, Gibbs High School is discussing moving to a longer school day, though the details are still being worked out between the teachers union and the administration. "Research says students need to be in learning opportunities longer in order to get caught up," Janssen said.

* Establish what Janssen calls "full service centers" at three sites -- one in the north, one in the middle and one in the south part of the county. These centers would be like the medical clinic being established at Gibbs High, a place where students could get health-related assistance they need beyond academics.

* By dividing the district into three attendance zones -- north, middle and south county -- students who live in those areas would likely get preference for the magnet and fundamental programs in those areas should comparable programs exist elsewhere. For example, a student who lives in mid-county and wanted to go to a fundamental high school could apply to the south county high school proposed at Boca Ciega High as well as to Osceola High in mid-county. But they'd probably land higher up the waiting list at Osceola than they would at Boca Ciega due to the proximity equation.

* Expand pre-kindergarten to all elementary schools that are entitled to Title I schools.

* Allocate more resources to schools that demonstrate additional need based on student performance. "Some schools," Janssen said, " take a lot more to keep them on equal standing."

* Explore further use of PTSA busing for students.

* Increase the career and technical opportunities for students by creating more "Centers of Excellence" programs in schools, redesigning Seminole Vocational Education Center and exploring pTECH's role in supporting K-12 programs. (Yeah, that's broad, we know...)

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 7:13am]


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