Life after HB7069 to be discussed at Pinellas school district workshop
The Pinellas County school district is still trying to navigate life after the controversial passage of HB7069.
The aftermath of the bill will be a central point of discussion at Tuesday's double-header of a 10 a.m. Pinellas County School Board meeting, followed by a board workshop scheduled for 1 p.m.
Board members and district officials will pore over a working budget for the 2017-18 school year, which is $30 million lighter in funds allocated for construction and renovation projects. As the new bill requires, that money will instead be doled out to charter schools over five years.
Which schools will be affected has not yet been determined. It will not disturb the school district's recent decision to turn to the bond market to fund projects, said deputy superintendent Bill Corbett.
Nor will it affect recruitment and retention bonuses promised for teachers in turnaround schools. Those bonuses for teachers in 15 designated schools are funded by Title I, Title II and Supplemental Academic Instruction dollars, however HB7069 shakes up how Title I dollars can be used.
"Those are going to be paid one way or the other because we have a contract with our teachers and we told them we would do that next year," Corbett said. He added that the five designated Scale Up for Success schools will still receive the "highest level of support" going into the new school year, including staffing paraprofessionals and keeping the extra hour and a half of academic instruction.
District officials will also discuss how to implement a "community school model" at Campbell Park Elementary, which last week was awarded a $5 million School Improvement Grant to be used over five years. The funds will pay for a community school director, an after-school program coordinator and a continuous improvement director, although these positions will be phased out after the 4-year grant period according to the proposal.
A plan to increase identification into gifted programs for students from under-represented groups, such as limited English proficiency and low socio-economic status, will be presented at the board workshop. Out of 7,022 gifted students (6.7 percent of countywide enrollment), just 2.8 percent are from a low socio-economic family and fewer than 1 percent identify with limited English proficiency.
Board members will vote at Tuesday's board meeting on whether to change district policy to officially reduce suspensions from five to three days. That policy would also strike the rule that three unexcused tardies within a grading period count as one unexcused absence.
The board will also set a public hearing to discuss its exceptional student education policies and procedures, which are required by law to be reviewed once every three years.