Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas School Board chairwoman laments: Legislature is failing schools

Pinellas County School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook on Thursday blamed the Florida Legislature for many of the current financial challenges schools face.

Between funding cuts, state-mandated class sizes and sunsetting sources of revenue, Cook told those at Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon Thursday, the Legislature hasn't met its constitutional requirement to adequately fund public schools.

The Pinellas district is grappling with a $60 million budget shortfall that could cost as many as 400 jobs in 2011-12, although it is still unclear how many employees may be laid off. And exactly how big the cuts will be won't be known until lawmakers pass a budget in the coming weeks.

After her speech, Cook was asked what the district is doing to address the disparity between African-American and white students.

An April 17 St. Petersburg Times story showed that Pinellas' black students are dropping further and further behind black peers statewide in math and reading at every grade level, based on FCAT scores.

Cook, who has been on the board since 2000, said the district needed to analyze the data more closely: "We have to figure out: Is there a trend going on? What is happening? Is this an anomaly?"

Cook also wondered if problems with the FCAT scoring last year might have affected Pinellas' scores. And she said superintendent Julie Janssen is considering hiring a specialist to examine the district's data. "We need to look at what kinds of programs we're offering," she said. "And look at what we're doing in Pinellas County that is different than in other counties."

"That achievement gap is very important to us," she continued, "And not only do we want our minority scores to be high, we want our high achieving students to also improve … It is a matter of keeping them both challenged."

In her speech, Cook highlighted some school and student achievements including: 40 Pinellas students named National Merit semifinalists; the award-winning robotics team at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs and Jamerson Elementary in St. Petersburg, named a school of distinction by the Magnet Schools of America.

Pinellas School Board chairwoman laments: Legislature is failing schools 04/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 23, 2011 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans

    Blogs

    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.