Thursday, November 23, 2017
Education

Be in the know when approaching your search for schools

RECOMMENDED READING


Welcome to the 18th annual edition of School Search. Our goal is to help Pinellas families with the important task of choosing the right school for their children in this season when schools begin to seek new students for the 2014-15 academic year.

This special section is built around the start of the application period for magnet, fundamental and career programs in Pinellas public schools. But private and charter schools are in recruitment mode as well, with January open houses and application deadlines of their own.

Pinellas parents have an expanding array of choices, and these pages reflect that reality.

Traditional zoned public schools, the most obvious choice, register students later in the year during a process that is largely automatic and based on where families live.

At School Search, we deal primarily with the dozens of special programs in the public system that go beyond what zoned schools offer. But we also report on what private and charter schools bring to the table.

As you will read in this section, the number of charter schools in Pinellas has more than tripled in the past five years, and more are in the pipeline to be approved.

Similarly, private school options continue to expand for low-income families who qualify for vouchers that cover tuition or transportation to a school far from home. This year, as in the past, more private schools have joined the Florida Tax Credit program, which again has increased the scholarship amount it offers.

At the same time, public schools are offering more variety. Pinellas is adding four magnet programs for middle school students in 2014-15, and is moving quickly on a proposal to reopen Gulf Beaches and Kings Highway elementary schools as technology magnets by August.

Also new this year: The Center for Journalism and Multimedia at Lakewood High, an established program, has been elevated to an academy.

Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego says his staff is talking about adding even more special programs in the near future.

As we always say, School Search is just a starting point for families. Attending discovery nights, asking lots of questions and comparing notes with other parents are strongly recommended steps as you prepare to make a choice.

It also can't hurt to check the numbers.

Go to fldoe.org, the Florida Department of Education's home page. Click on "Data & Statistics" in the far left column. After that, scroll down and click on a line that reads "PK-12 Reports and Publications." It will lead you to school-by-school data such as student poverty levels and teacher salaries and degree levels.

For school FCAT scores, click on "Data & Statistics" from the home page, then on the next page click on "Assessment" in the left column. That will lead you to a page with the heading "Bureau of K-12 Student Assessments." Under it, click on the link to "FCAT 2.0." Find the heading that says "Assessment Results" and choose a year.

Another resource, greatschools.org, rates individual schools and offers consumer reviews from parents and teachers. Be sure to pay attention to the dates of the reviews, and treat the information as you would a single test score or a chat at the grocery story with another parent. It's only a piece of the puzzle.

Good luck on your quest to find the right school, and feel free to drop us a line if you need more help.

Tom Tobin can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida’s campus — but will remain a student, university officials said.Ken Parker, a 37-year-old Navy veteran who once served as the grand dragon, or highest-ranking leader, of the Ku Klu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco schools brought home 20 top honors from the District 11 Junior Thespian Festival, which included 22 schools from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties and took place at the new River Ridge FAME Academy on Nov. 17 and ...
Published: 11/22/17
A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

LAND O’LAKES — Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco sat together several times in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving break, trading contract proposals amid (mostly) amicable conversation.They c...
Published: 11/22/17
Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

The thousands of students who signed up for Rita Osborn’s music and humanities classes at St. Petersburg Junior College knew what they had to do to pass.They could study and memorize material for tests, but they wouldn’t earn more than a C if they di...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
USF professors honored as AAAS Fellows

USF professors honored as AAAS Fellows

Six University of South Florida professors whose research efforts span biology, engineering, chemistry and business have been selected as Fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the organization announced Nov. 20.Election ...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Wiseman’s cell phone rings at least once a week, usually after 9 p.m., with a call from a desperate parent. The voice on the line is tired, defeated. Once again, their child was excluded from an after-school program or summer ca...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

University of Central Florida suspends sorority for hazing

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A University of Central Florida sorority has been suspended after its members were accused of hazing, underage drinking and providing false information to law enforcement.The university placed Alpha Xi Delta on an interim suspens...
Published: 11/21/17
10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

Associated PressThe latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African-Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before. The Rhodes Tr...
Published: 11/19/17

Class notes

School Calendar• Nov. 27: School resumes after Thanksgiving break• 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 Middl...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County’s 2018 Outstanding Senior.Commander of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, Beckman is also an Eagle Scout mentor, National Honor Society president and swim team captain.Beckm...
Published: 11/22/17