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Two Pinellas high schools want to be next fundamental high school

It's not clear whether the Pinellas school district will pursue a new fundamental high school. But in a sign of demand, two schools are already making pitches.

Dunedin High officials told superintendent Julie Janssen earlier this year that they're interested. Now they're poised to submit an application.

Meanwhile, the advisory council at Clearwater High recently got word of Dunedin's efforts and fired off a letter to alumni.

Dunedin High has "already started to slam the county School Board with letters from Dunedin community leaders and families trying to beat us to the punch," says the letter, from SAC president John C. Tsacrios. "It is imperative that the entire CHS community and its leaders rise up to this occasion again and bring fundamental status to our community's high school."

Fundamental schools put a premium on parental involvement and boast some of the highest test scores and lowest suspension rates in the county. The board vastly expanded the number of fundamental seats this year, but there remains only one fundamental high school, Osceola High in Seminole.

Pressured by fundamental school parents, the board is considering whether to expand the high school seats — and when to do it. Fundamental supporters want a new high school in place for next fall, but district officials have suggested it's a long shot. The board is expected to discuss the issue at a workshop today.

Marge Siemon, the school advisory council chair at Dunedin High, said Dunedin is smaller than Clearwater High, so it'll better foster a tight-knit, fundamental atmosphere. And its location will better appeal to north Pinellas parents who balk at driving their kids all the way to Osceola. "Dunedin is a perfect campus for it," she said.

But not as perfect as Clearwater High, suggests Janet L. Carnevali, that school's advisory council chair.

Clearwater High "boasts an outstanding number of honors and Advanced Placement courses" and is committed to producing students who will serve as "successful members of a global society," Carnevali wrote in Dec. 1 letter to Janssen.

When it comes to having a foundation for a fundamental program, Clearwater High "exceeds all requirements," she wrote.

Ron Matus can be reached at matus@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8873.

Two Pinellas high schools want to be next fundamental high school 12/14/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 12:13am]
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