LARGO — Four new middle school programs are in the works as Pinellas school officials try to make the campuses more attractive to families.
The new initiatives at Azalea, Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs middle schools and East Lake High School would feed into existing high school programs to create a track from one school to the next.
"Middle school is a time when parents worry about their children; we a need to work to address that so we don't see families choosing to go somewhere else," Bill Lawrence, the director of student demographics, assignment and capacity, told the School Board at a workshop Tuesday.
The board has to vote to make things official, but members expressed enthusiasm as Lawrence talked about opening applications in January for the 2014-15 school year.
Under the plan, Tarpon Springs Middle School would gain an arts program like the one at Tarpon Springs High. Azalea would get a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program that would feed into Boca Ciega High School, and Pinellas Park would gain a program that geared students toward the Advanced International Certificate of Education at Dixie Hollins and Clearwater. East Lake High would add classrooms for students in grades six through eight to study STEM.
Pinellas also is considering formally elevating Lakewood High's media studies and journalism program to an application program.