Pinellas School Board likes district accreditation idea
Pinellas County School Board members sounded positive Tuesday about seeking district-wide accreditation designed to make sure everyone — from schoolteacher to superintendent — is working hard to improve how well students are learning.
But they acknowledged the idea comes with a challenge: convincing administrators that the lengthy process is a real help and not just a lot of paperwork.
“I see this being very, very beneficial,” board Chairwoman Carol Cook said at a workshop Tuesday. But she added that how it’s presented to school employees “is going to be crucial to this.”
She said it’s important to let school administrators know the process has real value and is more than a rehash of other school improvement programs from the past. If it feels like a rehash, Cook said “their heart and soul is not going to be into it.”
The School Board does not vote at work sessions, but no one spoke against the accreditation idea at Tuesday’s meeting.
Under the plan, school administrators would gather later this month to begin training for the process and get an initial visit from the accrediting organization in September, said Mary Beth Corace, director of strategic planning and policy.
Superintendent Mike Grego said the accreditation process would force the school system to make sure its efforts across different departments are aligned to accomplish the same goals.
In addition, the accreditation team would review those plans and send as many as 20 experts to visit the Pinellas school system.
Although the School Board would be inviting outsiders to tell it what’s going right and wrong, the evaluators aren’t using a “sledgehammer, I-gotcha approach,” Grego said.
Board member Terry Krassner said once principals understand the approach, “I think they’re going to embrace it and feel like they’re really doing something that’s meaningful.”
Board member Linda Lerner said she thought the idea was excellent, and asked if charter schools would be part of the process. The answer was no, unless they opt in. However, some already have pursued accreditation on their own.