With superintendent Mike Grego nearing his first anniversary leading the Pinellas County School District, changes are afoot. The district is rolling out new initiatives, and faces are changing in the administration and at the schools. Here are some of the biggest changes coming this year:
The after-school program will provide an extra hour or more of instruction in 28 low-income elementary and middle schools this year. The voluntary program is part of Grego's efforts to get students, particularly struggling students, to spend more time in school.
The elementary schools in the program are: Fairmount Park, Melrose, Belleair, Lakewood, Campbell Park, Sandy Lane, Woodlawn, Maximo, High Point, Lealman, Bear Creek, Eisenhower, Ponce de Leon, Pinellas Park, Seventy-Fourth Street, Mildred Helms, New Heights, Dunedin, Skyview, Mount Vernon, Belcher and Gulfport.
The middle schools in the program are: Azalea, John Hopkins, Pinellas Park, Bay Point, Tyrone and Largo.
Grego has made some big changes to the top administration. He added a deputy superintendent, named a new head for teaching and learning, eliminated a turnaround officer, added a coordinator to the charter school office, and upgraded director positions for elementary, middle and high school education. More than a dozen schools have new principals.
End of early-release Wednesday
Early-release Wednesday is no more this year. District officials negotiated with the teachers union last year to stop the practice, which had been intended to give teachers more planning time. Some parents had complained that it was difficult to arrange childcare. Students still will spend the same amount of time in school; hours will be spread equally throughout the week.
Students from Hamilton Disston School, a special education center, will attend either Calvin Hunsinger School in Clearwater or Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park. Hamilton Disston will be renamed and used for alternative programs. Sanders, which had served seventh through 12th grades, will be a K-12 school like Hunsinger.
Four new charter schools are expected to open this year. University Preparatory Academy in St. Petersburg will serve elementary and middle school. Newpoint Pinellas Academy, in Clearwater, will have middle school. Plato Academy is opening its sixth branch; the new school in St. Petersburg will take kindergarteners, first- and second-graders. Discovery Academy of Science, with kindergarten to high school, will open in Clearwater.