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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Legislator supports finding state dollars to expand Pinellas math program



The SunBay Digital Mathematics pilot program is helping Pinellas County middle school students learn alegbra, according to the Silicon Valley-based organization that developed the program. And now, SRI International wants legislators to help it obtain $10 million in additional funding over three years to expand SunBay county-wide in Pinellas and add additional classrooms in other areas.

The organization partnered with the University of Florida St. Petersburg and the Helios Foundation to launch the pilot program in 2009. A year later, Florida Trend executive editor Mark R. Howard wrote a column in the St. Petersburg Times praising SunBay's effectiveness and suggesting it could help address the state's desire to reform math education.

Now is the time for the state to make a financial investment in expanding SunBay to more classrooms, SRI leaders said Monday afternoon.

Several House members attended the informal presentation, where SRI International outlined the technology-based math program and said students who complete its modules tend to score better on diagnostic tests.

"We believe this has the most transformative potential for algebra teaching," SRI Vice President Dennis Beatrice said.

Several House members attended the meeting, including Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, and Jim Frishe, R-Belleaire Bluffs. After the briefing, Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said he would support finding state dollars to expand SunBay, even as  lawmakers grapples with a $2.2 billion shortfall.

"Even in tough budget years there are going to be ideas that are outliers," he said. "I believe that SunBay math is one of those outliers that the Legislature should really consider funding."

[Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2011 6:29pm]


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