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Five Pinellas County schools desperately in need of help

As Pinellas officials prepare to overhaul the staffs at five "turnaround" schools, a look at several key measures helps explain why the state has targeted them for help. These snapshots include each school's subsidized lunch rate, which is a key indicator of poverty, and staff opinions from the district's annual "climate survey." For comparison, check the district averages at right.

Source: Pinellas County Schools, Florida Department of Education

Melrose Elementary

1752 13th Ave. S, St. Petersburg

Opened in 1962. Its school zone starts south of Interstate 275, between 16th and 28th streets S, with 22nd Avenue S as its southern boundary. It includes Jordan Park. Melrose earned a C grade in 2010, followed by two F's.

Current school grade: F

Enrollment: 410

Subsidized lunch rate: 98%

Minority rate: 93%

Teacher transfer requests this year: 71%

Staff who feel parent support is strong: 20%

Staff who feel students behave well: 18%

Staff who said morale was high: 48 %

Students meeting high standards in reading: 23%

Students meeting high standards in math: 24%

Teachers with three years of experience or less: 34 %

Average teacher salary: $40,170

Comments from annual climate survey:

• "It seems every year or two we are changing our focus. How can we accomplish anything with so much change?"

• "The students at Melrose are slowly making academic progress, however behavior impedes learning at our school. Most of the day is spent dealing with behavior instead of academic instruction."

• "I have never met a more dedicated group of people who are willing to push through daily struggles to help our students achieve success."

• "The staff only has each other."

Maximo Elementary

4850 31st St. S, St. Petersburg

Opened in 1971. Its school zone runs south of 22nd Avenue S between Interstate 275 and 16th Street. It includes Vera Manor. Maximo earned a D in 2010, followed by two F's.

Current school grade: F

Enrollment: 590

Subsidized lunch rate: 91%

Minority rate: 88%

Teacher transfer requests this year: 54%

Staff who feel parent support is strong: 26%

Staff who feel students behave well: 3%

Staff who said morale was high: 26 %

Students meeting high standards in reading: 33%

Students meeting high standards in math: 18%

Teachers with three years of experience or less: 49%

Average teacher salary: $41,774

Comments from annual climate survey:

• "Our principal is a strong advocate for her staff and students and works hard for them. She tries to establish ways of work that promote collegiality among staff."

• "Morale can best be described as toxic chaos, in my opinion."

• "Drastic changes need to be implemented at this school."

• "I fear for our safety. Students and parents are very angry and violent."

Fairmount Park Elementary

575 41st St. S, St. Petersburg

Opened in 1957. Its school zone runs from Central Avenue to 22nd Avenue S with east and west boundaries at 28th Street and a jagged line along 46th Street. It includes Childs Park. The school earned an F in 2010, followed by two D's.

Current school grade: D

Enrollment: 653

Subsidized lunch rate: 97%

Minority rate: 92%

Teacher transfer requests this year: 60%

Staff who feel parent support is strong: 11%

Staff who feel students behave well: 11%

Staff who said morale was high: 45%

Students meeting high standards in reading: 22%

Students meeting high standards in math: 22%

Teachers with three years of experience or less: 46%

Average teacher salary: $41,908

Comments from annual climate survey:

• "Some area superintendents have no idea what goes on in the schools on a daily basis."

• "The principal at Fairmount Park has gone to great lengths to provide high levels of support to the teachers. She has a wonderful hands-off leadership style and trusts the professional decisions of her staff."

• "The majority of parents are not actively involved with students and academics. Students respond poorly to rules and structure — the same students misbehave, act defiantly and have little respect for teachers."

• "I enjoy working with the students, but the behavior problems and low morale make me want to go elsewhere."

Pinellas Park Middle

6940 70th Ave. N, Pinellas Park

Opened in 1960. Its school zone runs south from 102nd Avenue N to 54th Avenue N, with the Cross Bayou Canal to the west and parts of U.S. 19 and Gandy Boulevard to the east. Pinellas Park earned a C in 2010, followed by two D's.

Current school grade: D

Enrollment: 1,006

Subsidized lunch rate: 79%

Minority rate: 49%

Teacher transfer requests this year: 51%

Staff who feel parent support is strong: 10%

Staff who feel students behave well: 35%

Staff who said morale was high: 38%

Students meeting high standards in reading: 40%

Students meeting high standards in math: 41%

Teachers with three years of experience or less: 46%

Average teacher salary: $43,957

Comments from annual climate survey:

• "It should be required for district support to spend a fraction of their time at school sites in order to keep a grasp about what is actually happening at the schools they support."

• "Principal has provided insight, leadership and a clear direction with regard to increasing the academic performance of our students."

• "Most students are here to learn."

• "I love the kids and staff at this school. We need more administrative support and district support. Our climate is still one of top-down management with changes imposed on us. Mandates are frequent with very little reason as to why."

Azalea Middle

7855 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg

Opened in 1964. Its school zone runs south of 54th Avenue N, with an eastern edge along 66th Street, Tyrone Boulevard and 34th Street S. It includes Gulfport, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach. Azalea Middle earned a C in 2010, followed by a D and an F.

Current school grade: F

Enrollment: 951

Subsidized lunch rate: 84%

Minority rate: 63%

Teacher transfer requests this year: 43%

Staff who feel parent support is strong: 13%

Staff who feel students behave well: 11%

Staff who said morale was high: 42%

Students meeting high standards in reading: 33%

Students meeting high standards in math: 26%

Teachers with three years of experience or less: 50%

Average teacher salary: $42,456

Comments from annual climate survey:

• "Major disconnect between district administration and south county schools."

• "The principal is doing everything humanly possible to help this school on a whole."

• "I think that most teachers don't want to ask for what they can't get — most don't even assign homework."

• "Teachers are overwhelmed with behavior issues and spend much time outside of business hours contacting parents for negative problems and don't have extra time for positive communication."

District average

Subsidized lunch rate: 56%

Minority rate: 41%

Staff who feel parent support is strong: 58%

Staff who feel students behave well: 67%

Staff who said morale was high: 51%

Students meeting high standards in reading: 56%

Students meeting high standards in math: 53%

Average teacher salary: $45,783

Five Pinellas County schools desperately in need of help 05/04/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 6:38pm]
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