School Board questions need for 'journalism training specialist'
Superintendent Julie Janssen defended the need for a proposed journalism training specialist in the face of questions last week from several Pinellas County School Board members.
The new employee would be based at Melrose Elementary but work with teachers and students in the journalism programs at Melrose, John Hopkins Middle and Lakewood High. He or she would need to be well-versed in journalism and the new technological tools used by journalists. The position dovetails with Dell's recent donation of netbook computers to Melrose.
Several board members questioned whether the position needed to be full time and wondered about the timing. The position, up for board approval Tuesday, would pay $40,000 to $58,168 a year.
Board member Robin Wikle noted the district's recent budget cuts and what are likely to be big cuts ahead. "I don't devalue the program," she said. "I'm looking at this as being fiscally responsible. Government right now is not creating jobs … and two years from now we may be cutting jobs."
Janssen offered a passionate defense.
She said the district does not have the expertise needed for the program and that introducing students to the latest technology will get them "hooked on learning." She also said enrollment at Melrose has dropped by nearly 100 students in the past year or so, and that a thriving program will bring students back.
Melrose "truly has to have a jump start," Janssen said. "We have invested and partnered with Dell on a project that could be exciting … we cannot afford to allow the program to fail."
Also at Tuesday's workshop: The board discussed its evaluation of board attorney Jim Robinson, which was done in September but briefly discussed again.
Bottom line: The board gave Robinson very high marks.
Ron Matus, Times staff writer
ESOL community resource fair Tuesday
The English for Speakers of Other Languages office will hold its community resource fair for refugee and immigrant families Tuesday.
Topics will include job placement and resumes, financial literacy, legal and citizenship issues, health services for the uninsured, English classes for adults, technical programs, and college opportunities. The fair is free, and interpreters will be provided. It will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Clearwater High, 540 S Hercules Ave.
For more information, call (727) 588-6543. For Spanish interpretation, call Marlene Ullmann at (727) 545-6400, ext. 2012.
PTEC students set to graduate Thursday
More than 125 students are scheduled to graduate from the Pinellas Technical Education Centers on Thursday.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster will be the keynote speaker. Darlene Butler-Welch, singer and daughter of a PTEC staff member, will perform the national anthem. Pharmacy technology student and reigning 2009 regional and state SkillsUSA double gold medal champion, Yolanda Gelin, will deliver the student address.
The PTEC Clearwater and St. Petersburg campuses offer more than 60 full-time and apprenticeship programs, online courses, and customized courses for individuals and businesses. Graduation ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N , St. Petersburg.
The following private school was inadvertently omitted from School Search, the Times special section that published on Jan 17.
Westlake Christian School
1551 Belcher Road, Palm Harbor; enrollment: about 430; preK-8; phone: (727) 781-3808; Web site: westlakechristianschool.org