Sunday, December 17, 2017
Education

Pinellas school district loses bid to run Head Start program

The Pinellas County School District won't be the county's provider for Head Start and Early Head Start services.

A $12 million grant to run the federal program for low-income children has been given to Lutheran Services Florida, a nonprofit organization based in Tampa.

The announcement, made by Lutheran Services, is something of a setback for Pinellas Schools. District officials have been pushing to get more involved in early childhood education programs because about one-third of students show up each year unprepared for kindergarten.

Melanie Marquez Parra, a district spokeswoman, said the school system hasn't learned yet why its application was denied by federal Head Start officials. But she said the grant won't affect plans for the Lew Williams Project, an early childhood initiative that targets many of the same children eligible for Head Start and Early Head Start.

The project — named for the late Lew Williams, a former School Board member and district administrator — will start with about 110 students at pTEC St. Petersburg in the 2013-14 school year. It will serve students ages 1 to 4. Head Start and Early Head Start programs are for infants to age 5.

Samuel Sipes, president and CEO of Lutheran Services Florida, said in a statement that the organization was "thrilled" to get the grant and "we look forward to helping children in Pinellas gain the skills they need to enter school ready to succeed."

Applications were opened up last year for the county's Head Start services after the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released an audit in 2011 that found relatives of executives had been hired as consultants and federal dollars had been mishandled at Pinellas Head Start. The audit was directed to Pinellas Opportunity Council, an umbrella group that oversaw Pinellas Head Start.

Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego released a statement congratulating Lutheran Services of Florida. "We look forward to a positive relationship with the organization as we all work toward the betterment of our community through educational opportunities for all," the statement said.

Cara Fitzpatrick can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8846. Follow her on Twitter @Fitz_ly.

Comments
Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

TAMPA — A high-ranking University of South Florida Health official has resigned amid internal concerns that he was giving special treatment to his assistant.After an internal investigation, USF System President Judy Genshaft was poised last month to ...
Published: 12/15/17
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Published: 12/15/17
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Published: 12/15/17
Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

SEMINOLE — It was hard for the second-graders at Orange Grove Elementary to resist the urge to rush into the school’s science lab and tinker with the colorful objects neatly arranged on each table.Thursday was just their second time in the lab this y...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Rising up in defiance to Richard Spencer, hundreds of University of Florida students sounded off in a deafening chant."Go home, Spencer!" they shouted, as the exasperated white nationalist paced the stage, pleading to be heard.Were the students exerc...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

TAMPA — Elementary school students programmed an electronic mouse to make its way through a maze.Middle school students directed an electronic vehicle to stop on a dime, then use its arms to locate and lift a tiny cube.When the demonstration was done...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/14/17