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Pinellas school officials discuss putting integrated technology program at Countryside High

LARGO — The only mainstream, north county high school without an attractor may soon have one.

Tuesday, Pinellas County school superintendent Julie Janssen proposed creating an integrated technology program at Countryside High School called the Institute of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Janssen said district officials are looking at developing cutting-edge technology offerings at Countryside that would be attractive to young people today.

The proposed offerings include cyber security, video gaming and animation, aerospace and television production.

"There are lots of hot areas now that I think we can embrace up at Countryside," Janssen said.

Advanced Placement courses in math, science and technology also would be part of the program.

Janssen said the new future-focused program would accommodate the desires of parents who were surveyed last week using the Pinellas County School District's instant notification system.

About 300 of 2,150 parents who were surveyed responded, she said.

A technology-focused program garnered 85 votes and was one of the top choices.

The No. 1 choice, with 104 votes, was a prep school with dual enrollment and AP offerings.

But Janssen said the prep school idea was too general and therefore she doubted it was a sufficient attractor to keep neighboring students at the school and draw them from elsewhere.

Countryside High School Advisory Council member Greg Hicks, who was in favor of either an International Baccalaureate program or a technology program at the school, said he was glad that the district listened to community opinions.

School Board member Linda Lerner told Janssen she wanted more information about the proposal and what it would cost to implement it.

And School Board member Janet Clark said she wanted to make sure the school had the necessary oversight and curriculum to bring such a proposal to fruition.

"I've had concerns voiced to me that it is a very sports-oriented school," Clark said. "Is there going to be support there if we put a program there?"

Janssen pledged to look into those issues and present a specific curriculum and cost structure at the next board workshop Nov. 29. A final vote on this and other proposals is scheduled for Dec. 7.

Lorri Helfand can be reached at lorri@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4155.

Pinellas school officials discuss putting integrated technology program at Countryside High 11/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 8:13pm]
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