Sunday, April 22, 2018
Education

Pasco schools, PHCC part ways over proposed technical center

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco school district leaders have made no secret of their desire to create a technical education center to serve the east side of the county.

They're not too keen, though, on a proposal coming from Pasco-Hernando Community College.

College president Katherine Johnson had looked for district support for a $16 million, 36,000-square-foot workforce training center at PHCC's east campus in Blanton. She was preparing to pitch the idea to House Speaker Will Weatherford, a Wesley Chapel Republican, in advance of the spring legislative session.

After initially having his staff collaborate on the concept, superintendent Kurt Browning had second thoughts.

"I cannot in good conscience support the construction of an east Pasco technical education center northwest of Dade City," said Browning, who lives in the area. "It's not going to be really easy to get to from Zephyrhills and southeast Pasco."

A different location, perhaps on district-owned property at Handcart Road, would better suit residents' needs, he suggested. Any new facility should serve "the entire east Pasco community," Browning said.

So he let Johnson know in an e-mail that the district won't be joining forces with the college.

"We are just not able to devote the time and energy to this proposed project," Browning wrote.

His move comes on the heels of a lengthy dispute with the college over fees the district must pay for high school students taking college credit-bearing courses. It also coincides with the district's consideration of joining forces with the Sheriff's Office to take over deputy training from the college, amid Sheriff Chris Nocco's criticism of the PHCC law enforcement academy.

Johnson told Browning via e-mail that she was "surprised and disappointed that you are not willing to allow Pasco County Schools to be a partner in this joint-use legislative proposal."

She added that a position paper is ready for district officials to review before submission to Weatherford, if Browning changes his mind.

Weatherford said he challenges government and agency leaders every year to come up with ideas that might benefit Pasco County. But the speaker stressed that he never gave any direction that the college and school district should work together on this or any other project.

"I never told them this is what I want to see," Weatherford said.

If an idea for an east Pasco technical education center does come forward, from the college, district or both, he said he will see if it's something that can get into the state budget.

"I can't guarantee it," said Weatherford, who's in his final term of office. "But I always ask for ideas."

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 Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Published: 04/21/18
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Published: 04/20/18
Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE — A gunman who carried a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire Friday in a Florida high school, wounding one student before he was arrested on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said. It...
Published: 04/20/18
Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins is preparing to reorganize his cabinet — for the third time since 2015 — in an effort to coordinate programs at the district’s highest-needs schools.In an interview this week, Eakins descr...
Published: 04/20/18
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Published: 04/20/18
Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Hooper: A tribute to my Godby High School instructors

Every time I see an algebraic formula, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Landreth and Mrs. McBee flash through my mind.If you say history, I say Mr. Groot and Mrs. Melton. If you say civics, I say Mrs. Jennings and Mrs. Hunt.I type using the "home keys" because Mrs....
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Published: 04/19/18
Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

LARGO — Starting soon, Pinellas County public schools could be using a nationwide violence prevention program founded by families of those killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012.The nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise, with ...
Published: 04/19/18

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teacher aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer p...
Published: 04/18/18