Monday, September 24, 2018
Education

Year in review: Pasco schools await student response to technical high school

Pasco County school district leaders have longed for years to create a technical high school.

At the same time, Ridgewood High School has struggled to meet state objectives on annual spring tests, and faced being forced into turnaround options that appealed to few.

The solution: Shut down Ridgewood and turn it into a magnet technical high school.

The idea didn’t come without its critics, including members of the School Board. They worried about how quickly they would need to convert to Wendell Krinn Technical High School, and if quality would suffer as a result.

To avoid the state’s heavy accountability hand, the administration told the board in September of its desire to make the change. It wanted quick approval so families could apply for the 2018-19 academic year in January.

That meant the planning team would be creating the program at the same time it was marketing the program, as principal Chris Dunning explained to guidance counselors at an introductory session.

Some parents worried about losing their neighborhood school, still referred to by many as the "Pride of Pasco." Others wondered whether Ridgewood students who had trouble with state exams would get help if they transferred to other high schools.

Still, the board agreed to the plan, assured by staff it would deal with the concerns.

The faculty at Fivay and Gulf high schools, which are slated to receive the Ridgewood students who don’t attend the magnet school, have pledged to counsel each incoming student. The magnet staff, meanwhile, doubled down on creating a campus that pairs with Marchman Technical College next door, ensuring students have a program that combines rigorous academics with hands-on training.

The big question remains: Will students come?

Despite its promise of courses in robotics and biomedical sciences, the magnet school won’t have band, art or athletics, key draws for some students.

Dunning told students at a recent presentation that the school still will have other activities, including prom and pep rallies.

They’ll just celebrate the electronics team instead of sports teams.

Plans call for a school of about 600 students — 150 per grade level — with every teen getting the opportunity to gain industrial certifications, 28 credits toward graduation, and even credit toward an associate’s degree.

The application period begins Jan. 8 and runs through early February.

Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

RELATED: Pasco School Board approves new magnet plan for Ridgewood High School

Comments
USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

USF assistant VP rides AHN wave of support to success

Editor’s note: Academy of the Holy Names junior Tress Jacobs spent the summer of 2018 shadowing Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper. To conclude the experience, she interviewed Academy alumnus Kim Wilmath Hill and filed this report.By Tres...
Published: 09/23/18
How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

How do you explain active shooters to a first-grader? For educators, school safety is a ‘work in progress.’

Active assailant. Run-hide-fight. Barricade the classroom. The language of preventing a shooting like the one this year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is often filled with terms that can stir up fear in students, often out of necessity.But f...
Published: 09/22/18

Two acclaimed authors to speak about water at USF St. Petersburg

Pulitzer Prize winner and University of Florida professor Jack Davis thinks people need to humble themselves more toward water."The water doesn’t belong to us, we belong to the water," he said. "Without water, humanity would not exist, life would not...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

Hillsborough school district releases referendum wish list

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District on Friday released a long-awaited, school-by-school list of 1,785 projects to be funded by a proposed half-cent sales tax hike.The list, now on the district website, includes playgrounds for Anderson El...
Published: 09/21/18
Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Students, parents invited to three upcoming college and career fairsThree events are scheduled over the next two weeks that are designed to help students plan their next steps after leaving the Pinellas County school system. The University of South F...
Published: 09/21/18
Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

TRINITY — Julie Michael stood in the metal bleachers, flute poised at her lips, ready to play the national anthem with the Seven Springs Middle School advanced band.As the band segued into the school fight song, the eighth-grader continued per...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/23/18
Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

Romano: We need education solutions not slogans from DeSantis, Gillum

And 200,000 third-graders just rolled their eyes.I swear, even they can see through the education proposals offered by gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum this week.Let’s see, the Republican wants more privatization. And the Democ...
Published: 09/20/18

Local rapper encourages elementary students to attend school every day(w/video)

Local rapper Corey Thornton performs original songs on Wednesday Sept. 18, 2019 about the importance of school attendance at Walsingham Elementary School during a school wide assembly. During Attendance Awareness Month, Pinellas County Schools and th...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

USF faces a reality as it prepares to consolidate: This is going to be hard.

TAMPA — All summer, while most students were gone, the University of South Florida has been toiling away on a blueprint for the complex merger of the USF System.Its three universities in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota will soon consolidate into o...
Published: 09/19/18
Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

LAND O' LAKES — The Pasco County School Board unanimously adopted a $1.26 billion budget Tuesday with a slightly lowered tax rate and funding for new school construction in both east and west Pasco.But the spending item that grabbed most of th...
Published: 09/19/18