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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Earn a C or possibly lose your principal, Florida Board of Education warns a Pasco elementary school



The Florida Board of Education has gotten serious about its position that leadership matters when improving low-performing schools.

It recently reiterated that message to the Pasco County school district, pointing directly at Gulf Highlands Elementary School.

Gulf Highlands became Pasco's first F-rated elementary school, and second ever, back in 2011. The administration quickly brought in a new principal, who helped raise the student performance to a C. 

That principal, Kara Smucker, won a promotion for her efforts less than two years into the job. Judy Cosh, who followed Smucker into Gulf Highlands, didn't maintain the success at the school that serves a heavily low-income community, amid changing state standards and tests.

The school earned a D in 2013, fell back to F in 2014, and received D's in 2015 and 2016. That performance triggered a state requirement for a turnaround plan, which the district sent in for State Board review in the fall.

It won only conditional approval.

"If the school does not earn a grade of C or better in 2017, the State Board will require the superintendent to present on the school's progress at a subsequent state board meeting in order to determine whether the plan will be renewed for the 2017-18 or require adjustments, such as replacement of the principal," chancellor Hershel Lyons informed superintendent Kurt Browning in a late November letter.

Browning in the past has bristled at state intervention, which he considered interference, in turnaround efforts. This past summer, though, he acknowledged the districts have little wiggle room in the face of an increasingly insistent State Board.

The board did not place any conditions on turnaround plans for Pasco Elementary or Gulfside Elementary, each of which hired new principals in the past year and half.

[Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2016 10:06pm]


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