Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas targets 11 low-achieving schools for a 'fresh approach'

Pinellas County officials are quietly analyzing student data at 11 schools, considering new curricula and possibly even new magnet programs to make the underachieving campuses more attractive to parents and children.

A team of 11 administrators, including superintendent Michael Grego, met this week to discuss the schools' absentee and suspension rates, FCAT performance and demographic information about the students. The administrators plan to meet again.

But while their work could significantly impact more than 7,500 students, Grego said through a spokeswoman that "it is too early in the process to discuss this group" with the public.

Besides Grego, the committee includes a demographer and administrators who oversee instruction, student discipline, charter schools, transportation, school police, food service and several other academic areas.

The principals of these schools have not formally been brought into the discussion, spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra said. "So far, this process has been the group members looking at data."

For example, a summary prepared on Maximo Elementary highlights that only 10 percent of students there are reading at grade level and 91 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, the school system's indicator of poverty. Other documents pinpoint the number of students living with one parent or with a grandparent.

According to a memo from the school district's communications staff to School Board members, the group has focused on these numbers for a reason. They've selected "11 schools that could benefit from a fresh approach, including new initiatives and curriculum and magnet attractors, to boost achievement and attract high-performing students."

The schools include seven elementaries — Belleair, Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo, Melrose and Sandy Lane — and four middle schools: Azaelea, Bay Point, John Hopkins and Pinellas Park.

The memo says that "committee members will be identifying potential barriers that may exist and how enhancements at the schools will attract high performing students from each school zone."

Several of the 11 schools already have magnet programs, but have struggled to enroll students. Only one student accepted an invitation to Melrose Elementary's Center for Journalism and Multimedia, leaving 13 kindergarten seats open for next year.w

The arts magnet at John Hopkins Middle enrolled fewer than half of its open seats, while the journalism magnet enrolled only 19 new students, leaving 131 openings.

Barry Brown, the principal of John Hopkins, said he was unaware the district was focusing on his school.

Brown said he feels supported by the district and that many of Grego's new initiatives, such as an expansive summer program for struggling students, are "a breath of fresh air." But he declined to say whether he was interested in seeing a new magnet program or change in curriculum at John Hopkins.

"I don't want to talk out of place," Brown said.

Part of the reason his magnet programs were under-enrolled, Brown said, was the abundance of special programs available to parents and children.

School Board Chairwoman Carol Cook said she was happy to hear the district was zeroing in on the 11 schools. "Those are where our most struggling students are at this point, so I know there's a laser-like focus on achievement and anything we can to do for that is definitely worth exploring," she said.

Cook said she had not known about the committee or its work, but said she was confident the team would in time bring proposals to the School Board.

"If they're putting in magnet programs and that type of thing, it could have a budget impact, and that's our responsibility and oversight," Cook said.

Lisa Gartner can be reached at lgartner@tampabay.com. You can also follow her on Twitter (@lisagartner).

Pinellas targets 11 low-achieving schools for a 'fresh approach' 04/12/13 [Last modified: Saturday, April 13, 2013 12:36am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Mulberry teens, 15 and 18, killed when cars collide at Plant City intersection

    Accidents

    MULBERRY — The local high school has an enrollment of 1,000 but to some it feels like a tight-knit family. Many of Mulberry High School's students have spent all of their school days within the city limits, said principal Michael Young.

    Pepe Salgado, 18, was killed Friday along with his sister Frinzi Salgado-Diaz, 15, in a car crash in Plant City. They were passengers in a car driven by their cousin Edilberto Nava-Marcos, 18, who was transported to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center and was listed in critical condition. All three lived in Mulberry and attended Mulberry High School. [Polk County School District]
  2. Assisted living facility owner accused of sexually assaulting employee in Pinellas

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — An assisted living facility owner was arrested Thursday on charges that he sexually assaulted an employee, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said.

  3. Find serenity at Grand Cayman Island's Cemetery Beach

    Travel

    GRAND CAYMAN ISLAND

    Hey, cruisers, if you've been to Hell and back, snuggled with the stingrays and taken photos with the turtles at the Cayman Turtle Centre, you might be looking for something different on your next trip. (Guilty!)

    Good snorkeling can be found off shore at Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman.
  4. Editorial: Honoring a solemn sacrifice

    Editorials

    For a nation still slogging away in Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones across the globe, this Memorial Day holiday marks the latest commemoration of sacrifice abroad, of uncertainty over America's role in securing the globe and of the country's great debt to its military families. The peace of yesterday is almost …

  5. Four Brandon middle school students face child porn charges related to sex video

    Crime

    BRANDON — Four Burns Middle School students, ages 12 to 14, have been arrested on child pornography charges after one secretly recorded a girl in a sex act and the others posted it online, authorities said Friday.