Thursday, December 14, 2017
Education

With classrooms to spare in urban areas, Hillsborough wants to fill empty space with preschool kids

TAMPA — Hundreds of low-income children could have access to quality preschool next year under a plan now under development in the Hillsborough County School District.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins said Monday he has asked his assistant superintendent in charge of academic support and federal programs to scout out elementary schools in high-poverty neighborhoods that have extra rooms that can be refitted to accommodate 3- and 4-year-old students.

With 29,000 vacant seats, mostly in the urban areas, Hillsborough has the room.

THE GRADEBOOK: All education, all the time

And, with some of the lowest reading test scores in the state, there is also a documented need for better preparation.

Fewer than half the district’s incoming kindergarten children arrive with enough preparation for the work they are assigned. In some schools, those percentages are in the 20s and 30s.

Head Start, the federal preschool program, gets some children ready, but it has its drawbacks.

Participants in Head Start must qualify according to income. And in many cases, they attend Head Start in one school and kindergarten in another.

The model Eakins described would have the child attend the same school for both preschool and kindergarten.

In that way, he said, a child who breezes through the preschool curriculum can get an early start on his kindergarten work.

"We are literally creating the pipeline and the transition for kids," Eakins said.

The idea, he added, fits into a broader concept of creating opportunities for students to look ahead to the next level of schooling.

"I see it as an interstate, where kids do not have stop signs along the way," he said.

Eakins said he hopes to have a preliminary list of locations by December. Money would come from Title I, the federal program that exists to close the achievement gap between higher-income and lower-income children.

While the state’s new education law, known as House Bill 7069, imposed restrictions on the use of Title 1, Eakins said it still allows some money to be set aside for early childhood education.

Although it is too early to know precisely how many children will be served, Eakins said he hopes to accommodate several hundred. Districtwide, there is now a gap of 1,500 between the number of children who need preschool and those the district is able to serve, he said.

One goal Eakins hopes to accomplish with this plan is to improve reading scores.

Nearly one in four Hillsborough students, or 24.7 percent, reads at Level 1, the lowest on the Florida Standards Assessment. Statewide, 22.8 percent of students are at Level 1.

For the last two years, Hillsborough also has had the most schools by a wide margin on the state’s list of 300 schools with low reading scores.

Contact Marlene Sokol at (813) 810-5068 or [email protected] Follow @marlenesokol.

Comments

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

Caitlin Gille grew up in a union household in Wisconsin, where her mom was a long-time teacher in the small city of Wauwatosa, just west of Milwaukee.She was accustomed to seeing educators advocating for their working conditions and pay, having a sea...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

NEW YORK — This may or may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it’s been a big year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased 70 percent over 2016 on Mer...
Published: 12/12/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17

Pasco class notes for Dec. 15

School Calendar• Dec. 22: End of second grading quarter.• Dec. 23-Jan. 7: Winter Break.• Jan. 8: Teacher planning day. No school for students.Arts/Music/TheaterCenter for the Arts at River Ridge Middle High, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17