Thursday, May 24, 2018
Education

7 Pasco, Hillsborough automotive technology programs lose state funding

WESLEY CHAPEL — Two Pasco County and five Hillsborough County high school automotive technology programs have lost state funding for the year because they failed to become properly certified.

Florida lawmakers made the requirement in 2010. But both Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills high schools failed to acquire the needed credentials by the February 2014 deadline, and as a result became ineligible to receive money for enrolled students.

The loss of outside money means both districts would have to dip into their reserves to keep the programs running. Officials say they expect to have the programs fully certified in time for the fall semester.

The loss of financial support, which also extends to federal grants, should not affect students, said Rob Aguis, who oversees district career and technical education in Pasco.

"Students can still get their (industry) certifications. We can still offer instruction," Aguis said. "We just have to really buckle down and make sure we get this certification in the next couple of months."

The effort will focus on Wesley Chapel High, which opened a new auto repair facility to great fanfare in 2012. The academy has grown to nearly 200 students since then.

Zephyrhills High's program has been less successful, and is slated to close next year.

Aguis said Wesley Chapel could not get its National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation accreditation because it needed a building, and also because it needed instructors with National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence credentials.

The program went through four teachers in four years, he said, and some did not have the needed training. Teachers came and went primarily because of salary: A starting teacher made $36,420 while the average salary for a mid-level auto mechanic in the area is closer to $41,600.

The missing accreditation was "not an oversight," Aguis said, "but the result of the many transitions in the program."

Hillsborough district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said four of the five schools in that district — Bloomingdale, East Bay, Gaither and Plant City — had previously carried the NATEF accreditation and missed the state deadline while in the renewal process. The fifth, Robinson High, is pursuing the designation for the first time and expects to have it in May.

"It means nothing for the students," Arja said. "It only has to do with funding."

The Pasco school district will lose $197,579 because of the missing certification, spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said. The district will take money from its fund balances to cover the gap. The Hillsborough district has not calculated its figure, which is complicated by the new way the state is funding education this year, a spokeswoman said.

Wesley Chapel High assistant principal Shelly Carrino, who oversees the school's automotive academy, said she has already begun the certification effort.

"We've been working on it since the start of the school year," Carrino said.

An advisory committee met on Tuesday to prepare for a self-evaluation, which requires input from industry partners. Marchman Technical Education Center, which has full accreditation, is advising the school as well.

"We're on our way," Carrino said, saying she expected to have the application complete within weeks.

That won't be soon enough to avoid the loss of funding for the current semester, according to Department of Education officials. District leaders will have to find money within their local resources to cover the costs.

"We are taking this seriously," Aguis said. "We want this program to be funded."

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected], (813) 909-4614 or on Twitter @jeffsolochek. For more education news visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
A school resource officer allegedly told a gay student she would go to hell. Now he’s going away.

A school resource officer allegedly told a gay student she would go to hell. Now he’s going away.

The stares and whispers started on the first day of school more than two years ago, when Liv Funk and Hailey Smith silently declared their relationship in the halls of North Bend High School by holding hands.They knew coming out would be hard in the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
What is a college’s responsibility to parents when a student is suicidal?

What is a college’s responsibility to parents when a student is suicidal?

CLINTON, N.Y. — In the days after her son Graham hanged himself in his dormitory room at Hamilton College, Gina Burton went about settling his affairs in a blur of efficiency, her grief tinged with a nagging sense that something did not add up.She fi...
Published: 05/24/18
Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County came closer on Wednesday to reaching an agreement with the school district that would give them most, but not all of the pay they expected this past year.The deal, if it happens, will end a year-long conflict t...
Published: 05/23/18
Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

NEW PORT RICHEY — The line snaked through the hallways and into the cafeteria, as the Ridgewood High faithful waited for their chance to secure a piece of the school’s 40-year history.They came by the hundreds — current and former students, staff and...
Published: 05/23/18
Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

TAMPA — The pain of the Parkland shootings Feb. 14 was fresh on the minds of Hillsborough County’s graduating seniors when about 300 of them received an assignment. Write a 250-word essay on how decades of school shootings have touched y...
Published: 05/23/18
Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

WEEKI WACHEE — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that she created a fake social media post threatening to shoot students at Weeki Wachee High School, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said the 16-year-old told...
Published: 05/22/18
Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union moved closer to resolving their salary dispute during Monday’s negotiating session — but stopped short of reaching an agreement.The teachers, who have spent this school year work...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18
Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

Parents score victory in effort to make travel safer for Westchase students

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school leaders call it courtesy busing, but to Lauren Hawkins it’s more a matter of life and death.More students living close to their schools in the Westchase community used the Hillsborough school district’s courtesy bus...
Published: 05/21/18
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own. Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held...
Published: 05/20/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Hooper: SEL lends a solution to the increasingly toxic world of kids

An incident recently arose between students at Jesuit High School and Academy of the Holy Names that involved allegations of cyberbullying, homophobia, misogyny and assault.It only involved a fraction of the students at two of Tampa’s most prestigiou...
Published: 05/23/18