Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Again, Pinellas schools look at assignment zones

LARGO — Pinellas County schools may be in store for yet another student assignment plan.

Superintendent Julie Janssen and her staff on Tuesday presented School Board members with a variety of data to begin discussing school zoning that could be in place as soon as 2011-2012.

With almost 6,000 students on wait lists for countywide magnet and fundamental programs, board members discussed possibly splitting the district into three high school zones — north, central and south — and offering the same magnet school options in each area.

But Janssen also pointed out that while popular discussion lately has centered around creating a second fundamental high school program, the greatest amount of interest appears to come from elementary parents whose children are wait-listed.

The district has nine fundamental schools and 49 distinct magnet programs.

Janssen told board members she will present several five-year plans to them during a September workshop with the hope that they will vote on a new scenario by December — in time for parents to start picking their children's schools for 2011-12.

Adding to the discussion, administrators showed a variety of graphics identifying the greatest concentrations of special education students and economically disadvantaged students in relation with current high school zones.

In both cases, blocks of red indicated the steepest numbers. And in both cases, the reddest areas of the district appeared in the southernmost part of the county.

"That does not mean that it's not also filled with highly talented students," said board member Mary Brown, who favors opening a fundamental high school in her south Pinellas district. "But that's an awful lot of issues for one area."

Since the School Board three years ago voted 6-1 to return to neighborhood zones, the district has become increasingly economically and racially segregated.

Brown said she feels the option gives a greater opportunity for diverse student populations.

But Goliath Davis, an administrator for the city of St. Petersburg who serves on two mediation teams dealing with the school district's equitable treatment of black students, listened to the discussion from the back of the room, at times shaking his head, especially when discussion returned to adding a fundamental high school in south Pinellas.

With the bulk of the district's struggling schools in that area, Davis worries that adding another fundamental school only results in dispersal of a troubled population rather than addressing core educational issues.

"We can't look at fundamental high school as the end all to addressing the problems," Davis said a day earlier. "Just don't shotgun it and say this is the solution."

Also Tuesday, board members received the results of an online anonymous survey of 852 parents, students and teachers regarding absenteeism and high school exam exemptions.

No surprise: 94 percent of teachers think students should be required to take a final exam if they missed five or more days in the class, while only 37 percent of students did.

Nonetheless, the board is preparing in September to approve a policy to require final exams for all high school students who miss five or more days per semester.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at or (727) 893-8707.

Again, Pinellas schools look at assignment zones 08/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Comedian and activist Dick Gregory dies at 84


    The comedian Dick Gregory rose to national prominence in the early 1960s as a black satirist whose audacious style of humor was biting, subversive and topical, mostly centered on current events, politics and above all, racial tensions. His trademark was the searing punchline.

    Dick Gregory, a comedian, activist and author, died Saturday. [Tribune News Service, 2011]
  2. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General


    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  3. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  4. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  5. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest


    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.