Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Connerton Elementary comes under school district scrutiny

LAND O'LAKES — Amid complaints and petitions, Pasco school superintendent Heather Fiorentino is reviewing the leadership at Connerton Elementary School.

Fiorentino has visited the school twice in two weeks to look into whether the 848-student facility requires changes at the top.

"Right now, I'm still gathering information," Fiorentino said Thursday. "I have gotten phone calls and emails that absolutely support Anna (Falcone, the principal), and I've gotten phone calls and emails that have not supported her."

She expected to have a decision before classes start in August.

That's not quick enough for at least one School Board member.

Board chairwoman Joanne Hurley, who represents the area, said tensions have simmered at the school since it opened in 2010. There's been plenty of time, she said, for Fiorentino to act.

"This has gone on long enough," Hurley said. "I'm not here to say what to do. I'm just asking her to step up to the plate and do what she thinks is best."

In recent weeks, the fractures have shown. A small group of disgruntled current and former employees and parents protested in front of the school, complaining about teacher assignments and generally poor morale.

On Tuesday, the group's leader, former employee Peggy Lopez, submitted 114 signatures petitioning for Falcone's removal.

"The implication is that we have to choose between good scores and good administrators," Lopez said.

The schism stems from Connerton's transition from Sanders Elementary School, which was closed with plans to rebuild it in a couple of years.

Until then, Connerton was expected to serve essentially as the temporary site for a relocated Sanders. It soon became clear, though, that the reconstruction project wouldn't happen anytime soon because of the down economy.

As a result, Connerton took on its own identity as a new school. A new principal, Falcone, took the reins amid a spate of principal changes that affected six schools. And she was told to hire the staff she needed to make Connerton successful, without any requirement to absorb everyone from Sanders.

Some faculty members landed positions at Connerton. Some didn't. And some of them felt betrayed.

Falcone said she understood the stress and upset that has lingered, as well as new complaints about teacher reassignments she made at year's end. It's been no party for her to hear all the negative comments against her, either, she said.

But her goal, she said, has been to create a high-performing school.

"Sometimes change is hard. But it's needed," Falcone said. "The changes I made are going to benefit all the students."

School Board member Steve Luikart, a retired assistant principal, said he hopes Fiorentino keeps some perspective as she weighs what to do at Connerton.

"I've got to look back and say, It's not about the parents. It's about the kids," Luikart said. "Prove to me that what they're doing is harming kids and I'll step forward and I'll yell and scream as loud as anybody. But they haven't shown that to me."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at, (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek.

Connerton Elementary comes under school district scrutiny 06/07/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 7, 2012 9:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle