Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap

“I’m an optimist. I think this is going to work,” Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan to address the achievement gap. 


“I’m an optimist. I think this is going to work,” Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan to address the achievement gap. 

After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that aims to tackle the achievement gap in 10 years and settles a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students.

"I'm an optimist. I think this is going to work," board member Linda Lerner said. "I like things that are clearly put. And I think we have the sustainability and continuous quality improvement."

Representatives from the Concerned Organization for the Quality Education of Black Students, known as COQEBS, were present for the board's discussion and its 7-0 vote. The group took over as plaintiffs for the lawsuit in 2010 and spent the last few months in sometimes tense negotiations with the district.

After the vote, COQEBS members, their attorney, School Board members and district staff rose from their seats, shook hands and hugged each other to celebrate the plan's passage.

The strategies in the 81-page plan address six broad themes: graduation, student achievement, advanced coursework, student discipline, identification for special education and gifted programs, and minority hiring. Officials have tried to address racial gaps in those areas in the past, but they say the new plan contains features that will improve on those efforts.

For example, district officials will be required to provide more in-depth data, monitor progress quarterly and report their findings. The district also will step up efforts to hire more black teachers and test more black children for gifted programs.

The plan is expected to be implemented this year, but first must be approved by a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge at a hearing that the public will be encouraged to attend.

Tuesday marked the first chance since the plan was unveiled last week that School Board members could comment.

"We finally have something that everyone can focus on," said board member Carol Cook.

Former St. Petersburg police chief and deputy mayor Goliath Davis, who has long been involved with COQEBS, said he would begin to get the word to the community about the new plan.

"I didn't want to start looking at community (involvement) until we had you guys on board and the accountability here," he told board members.

Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap 05/23/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears


    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  2. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  3. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse


    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  4. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.