State budget blasts, Seminole Middle woes, officially Midtown Academy and more from the Pinellas County School Board meeting
Here's a glimpse of what happened at a lengthy Pinellas County School Board meeting on Tuesday:
- Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego had some choice words for the budget and a controversial education bill that will go before Gov. Rick Scott for approval. Under that budget, Pinellas will see a decrease of $487,740 in funding. "This budget does not favor this district or any other district," he said. Board member Terry Krassner asked Dr. Grego to pen a letter to Scott asking him to veto HB 7069. Before obliging, Grego said of the bill, "Overall, I feel there's a whole lot more negative distracting from our school district than positive."
- A few Seminole Middle parents showed up to the board meeting fired up about an incident at the school that ended in three students arrested on felony charges for allegedly assaulting a school employee. They were not thrilled with how the principal, Wendy Bryan, handled the situation, and one parent said there have been incidents of "racial bullying" at the school. Area superintendent Bob Poth said the school has adjusted several procedures, including seating arrangements, lunchtime routines, revised dismissal procedures and hallway supervision.
- It's official, Midtown Academy is here to stay. The School Board approved the purchase of 1701 10th Street South in St. Petersburg for $3.865 million. The district sold the property, once home to Southside Fundamental Middle, to University Preparatory Academies, Inc. for $1.1 million in 2013. Now that the purchase is complete, district leaders must develop a long-term plan for the hurting school. Grego said at the board meeting that the district is considering a golf and tennis program there.
- Policy changes make another Pinellas move official: it's been the district's practice for the past year, but the maximum number of in-school and out-of-school suspension days for students has been reduced from five to three days. Policy language still allows for the suspension to be extended with permission from an area superintendent.
- The School Board voted to renew a $212,000 agreement with Community Tampa Bay to fund cultural competency training to district personnel. That training will expand from 18 to 36 schools in the 2017-18 school year.
- The School Board approved an item that would allow the school district to apply for a $4 million grant with the University of Central Florida to create, develop, and implement an evidence-based literacy intervention for 4th, 7th, and 9th grade high-need students at Woodlawn and Belleair elementary schools, Meadowlawn and Oak Grove middle schools and Northeast and Clearwater high schools.