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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Stewart pulls plug on $698,000 science contract



Over the past year or so, the Gradebook received a good smattering of complaints about the Pinellas school district's contract with Sangari Active Science, a company that provides science materials and curriculum. Apparently, interim superintendent John Stewart also found the contract lacking. He told board members in an email today that he was terminating it because "the program did not yield the results we had hoped."

Read on for the full email.

Based on an evaluation conducted by the district’s Department of Research & Accountability as well as extensive conversations with school principals, we have decided to terminate our contract with Sangari Active Science, a company with a 40-year history of providing science and engineering materials to students in 16 countries.
Pinellas entered into a $698,000 agreement with Sangari last spring in the hope that the company’s hands-on laboratory materials would engage students and boost sagging science scores. District staff knew at the time that there were gaps between what the company promised and full alignment to Sunshine State Standards in science. The company promised to address these issues, and so we began the 2011-12 school year with 16 elementary schools on board.
Unfortunately, three months into the year, those issues have not been addressed to our satisfaction. An evaluation conducted by our Research & Accountability team revealed additional shortcomings. Face-to-face conversations with principals and visits to four of the 16 schools by members of our Curriculum & Instruction team convinced us that our best course of action is to terminate our contract with Sangari.
While we will not be replenishing Sangari materials in the future, we will continue to get a good deal of use from what we already own – CDs, DVDs, microscopes, test tubes, etc.  Our intrepid C&I team has developed a plan to integrate these materials into curriculum that works. In other words, we will continue to get a return on our investment.
We can’t pretend this is the best outcome, but I believe the district did make a good-faith effort to provide a unique brand of instructional delivery; the program simply did not yield the results we had hoped. To the credit of the C&I team and under the watchful eye of Research & Accountability, the deficiencies were recognized early on. The good news is that we will not continue to spend valuable resources on a program that does not yield top-notch results.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about this decision.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 5:41pm]


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