School Board loses pair, will gain two new faces
The Pinellas County School Board said goodbye to two members last week — Mary Brown and Nina Hayden — and will welcome two new ones this week.
Terry Krasner and Lew Williams will be sworn in Tuesday to represent Districts 2 and 7, respectively.
Hayden's last day was actually Nov. 2, when voters picked Jack Latvala over her for a state Senate seat. But she attended last Tuesday's School Board meeting as an audience member, and fought back tears after the board presented her with gifts (a plaque and a Snuggie).
"It's been a privilege and an honor to serve with you guys," she said.
In her final remarks, Brown — the board's first elected African-American member — described some of what guided her decisions during eight years in office:
"Speak for the children who have no one to speak up for them … Make decisions that are best for all children, especially the ones that are poor and have dysfunctional families."
"We haven't always seen eye to eye," board chairwoman Janet Clark told Brown, "but I think we've seen heart to heart."
Race to Top application tweaked
The Pinellas School Board voted 5-1 Tuesday to approve changes in the district's Race to the Top application, which could yield about $15.9 million.
One of the big ones: basing 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation on student performance. The district wanted 40 percent. The Florida Department of Education said no.
"I wish I had another choice," said board member Linda Lerner, but "I can't turn $15 million away in money we desperately need."
"I think there is a choice. You support it or you don't," countered Janet Clark, who voted no. "We might be mandated to have a performance pay system, but it doesn't have to be what Race to the Top is telling us."
According to the updated application, beyond the 40 percent that's based on student achievement or growth data, "Alternative measures of students' progress will be used for the additional 10 percent … Alternative approaches such as value-added model, portfolio assessments, or student's progress based on the individual growth index will be considered."
Ron Matus, Times staff writer