District will offer free driver's ed during summer
The Pinellas County School District will offer free driver's education this summer. The sessions are open to public and private school students. There is a 42-student maximum for each session.
• June 14 to July 1, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• July 5 to 22, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• June 14 to 29, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
• June 30 to July 15, 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Students must be at least 15, have a birth certificate, Social Security card, two proofs of residency documents and a parent or legal guardian present. Students without a restricted driver's license will have to pay $54.25 to the Tax Collector's Office. The DMV Web site for permits is gathergoget.com, or call (850) 617-3995.
Board candidate offers a parent's perspective
Jessica Summers is open about it: She says she doesn't know the "ins and outs" of how the Pinellas School District works. But as the parent of two kids in Pinellas schools, she says she knows what does and doesn't make sense for parents and students.
"I'm coming from a parent's standpoint," Summers said. "I may not look at (issues) as, is this what's best for business? I look at it as, is it the best for the child? It seems to me that's the most important thing."
Summers, 28, a physical therapy assistant in Largo, has been active in PTAs. She and her husband have two children in Pinellas schools — an 8-year-old in the gifted program at Ridgecrest Elementary and a 5-year-old at Fuguitt Elementary. She's running for the at-large District 2 seat being vacated by Nina Hayden.
Summers said the ongoing flap over arterial bus routes is a case where the district fell short from a parent's perspective. "It seems like they put the 'this is the most cost effective' (over) 'this is the safest one for the child,' " she said. "I'm not saying they're trying to put our kids in danger. It just seems like they didn't think it through."
Summers said one of her top issues is finding ways to keep good teachers from leaving the district. She said they need to be better rewarded for their hard work and need to be given more leeway to establish "control in their classrooms."
She also favors performance pay.
"In my profession, if you're a good therapist, you get raises. If you're not, you may not get the same raise as everybody else. But they'll talk to you and figure out ways you can do better," she said. "You have good teachers who say, 'Why I should try (when) they're going to make the same as me?' "
Summers said the FCAT "drives me insane." She doesn't like the state's school recognition money program. She said the state's reliance on standardized testing is leaving the district's low-performing and high-performing kids behind. "A lot of that is coming from the state, and there may not be a whole lot you can do to change it," she said. "But we should try."
Outstanding educator to be named Wednesday
Principals, parents, community members and teachers nominated 92 educators. Two administrators and a local business leader observed semifinalists in the classroom and then selected 14 finalists in several categories.
Winners in each category, along with the 2010 Outstanding Educator, will be announced Wednesday during a celebration at Ruth Eckerd Hall sponsored by the Pinellas Education Foundation. About $6,000 will be awarded.
Last week, the district named Lisa Troiso, a secretary in the science department, as the 2010 Support Employee of the Year. The district has more than 6,600 full- and part-time support employees.