Cara Fitzpatrick, Times Staff Writer

Cara Fitzpatrick joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2012 and is an education reporter. She grew up in Washington State and graduated from the University of Washington and Columbia University.

Phone: (727) 893-8846

Email: cfitzpatrick@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Fitz_ly

link
  1. Billiris paid her property taxes

    Blog

    Beverley Billiris, a candidate for the Pinellas County School Board and former mayor of Tarpon Springs, has paid her property taxes.

    Billiris, 66, and her husband, George, 87, owed $6,990 in unpaid taxes from 2013 on their home and commercial property, both in Tarpon Springs. The couple fell behind on their taxes, she said, because of an illness in the family. The Times wrote about the unpaid taxes earlier this month. Billiris said then that the taxes would be paid within a month. She paid them on Aug. 19, according to the property tax collector....

  2. Grego lists accomplishments in state of the district speech

    Blog

    In his second "State of the District" speech Wednesday, superintendent Mike Grego emphasized a long list of accomplishments in his short tenure, ranging from an expansion of summer school and after-school programs to an increase in career academies and the number of students earning industry certifications to the move last year to raise the starting teacher salary to $40,000 a year. 

    "Our district is moving in a very positive direction," he said....

  3. Lerner, other incumbents to stay on Pinellas School Board

    Education

    Three incumbents kept their seats on the Pinellas County School Board in Tuesday's primary election, while a fourth race will be decided with a runoff in November.

    Linda Lerner, 71, the board's longest-serving member, beat a strong challenge from Maureen Ahern, 54, a former journalist and the wife of state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole. With the win, Lerner earned a seventh term in office....

    Peggy 
O’Shea
  4. Pinellas County School Board, District 4

    Politics

    School Board | District 4

    Three candidates — Beverley Billiris, John Nygren and Ken Peluso — are vying to replace Robin Wikle. Wikle chose to step down early. District 4 includes Tarpon Springs, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Dunedin and parts of Clearwater, including Countryside and the north beaches. Cara Fitzpatrick, Times staff writer

     ...

    Beverley Billiris
  5. Pinellas County School Board, District 2

    Politics

    School Board | District 2

    Board member Terry Krassner is seeking a second term. She faces Chris Tauchnitz, a senior software engineer, for the seat. District 2 is at large, which means it's open to voters throughout Pinellas. Cara Fitzpatrick, Times staff writer

     

    Terry Krassner, 62

     

    School Board member...

    Chris Tauchnitz
  6. Controversy about Peluso's creationism comments continues

    Blog

    Pinellas School Board candidate Ken Peluso said last Thursday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg that he would support teaching creationism in science classes.

    Peluso reversed his position the next day, saying that he was caught off guard and "gave a quick response without thinking."...

  7. Swartzel gets lobbying contract from Pinellas County Schools

    Blog

    Steve Swartzel, who retired from the Pinellas County school system a little more than a year ago, will now lobby on behalf of the School Board.

    The School Board approved Tuesday a two-year contract with Swartzel Consulting. The school system will pay Swartzel $62,000 a year for representing its interests in Tallahassee.

    Swartzel, who had a long career in Pinellas, performed many of the same duties when he was in the governmental services office. He earned $119,000 a year as a full-time employee. Upon his retirement in May 2013, that office was eliminated. ...

  8. Three candidates want Robin Wikle's Pinellas School Board seat

    Education

    Three candidates are vying to replace School Board member Robin Wikle, who announced in February that she would vacate her seat two years early.

    Her decision put five of seven board seats in play this year.

    Two candidates seeking to replace Wikle have name recognition. Beverley Billiris, 66, is the former mayor of Tarpon Springs, a local business owner and a recently retired teacher. Ken Peluso, 57, is the former chairman of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas and a retired chiropractor who narrowly lost to Wikle in 2008. ...

  9. Pinellas School Board candidate Peluso reverses on creationism

    Education

    Pinellas School Board candidate Ken Peluso said Friday he doesn't support teaching creationism in public schools, despite comments he made during a public forum.

    He was caught off guard and gave a "quick response without thinking," he said.

    During a candidate forum held by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg, Peluso was asked Thursday if he favored teaching creationism. If so, would he allow it to be taught during a science class? He said, "I think creationism and evolution should be taught side by side and I don't care what classroom."...

    Ken Peluso, a candidate for the Pinellas School Board District 4 seat, made the comment in a forum.
  10. Peluso reverses his position on creationism, says he was caught off-guard

    Blog

    Pinellas School Board candidate Ken Peluso said Friday that he doesn’t support teaching creationism in public schools, despite comments he made during a public forum.

    He was caught off-guard and gave a “quick response without thinking,” he said....

  11. Pinellas School Board candidate Ken Peluso wants creationism taught in public schools

    Education

    Pinellas School Board candidate Ken Peluso wants creationism taught in public schools.

    "I think creationism and evolution should be taught side by side and I don't care what classroom," Peluso said Thursday in response to a question at a School Board candidate forum held by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg.

    Candidates were asked whether they favored teaching creationism. If they did, would they allow it to be taught in a science class? ...

    Let students “know the facts” and decide for themselves, School Board hopeful Ken Peluso says.
  12. Peluso favors teaching creationism alongside evolution

    Blog

    Ken Peluso, a candidate for the District 4 seat on the Pinellas County School Board, said today that he favors teaching creationism in public schools.

    "I think creationism and evolution should be taught side by side and I don't care what classroom," he said in response to a question at a public forum held by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg....

  13. Pinellas School Board race pits educator against engineer

    Education

    Pinellas County School Board member Terry Krassner faces a senior software engineer in her bid for a second term. The two offer voters clear differences in philosophy and experience.

    Krassner, 62, is a lifelong educator, serving 36 years in the Pinellas County School District as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Chris Tauchnitz, 46, has worked at VeriFone Inc. for 19 years, working his way up to senior software engineer....

    Chris Tauchnitz, 46, is running for an at-large seat on the Pinellas County School Board. He has worked at VeriFone Inc. for 19 years and is a senior software engineer. He believes that the School Board needs to be able to have perspectives from people not in the field of education. 
  14. Ribbon cutting for Lew Williams center is Thursday

    Blog

    Lew Williams was a staunch advocate for early childhood education.

    As the oldest of seven children in a single-parent household, Williams envisioned joining the U.S. Army to get a college education. After that, he planned to be a lawyer. But a high school English teacher inspired him to go into education by giving him a year's tuition and a college acceptance letter. He ended up spending four decades in education, was a Pinellas County School Board member and the owner of a daycare....

  15. Winchester leaving Pinellas County Schools for University of Florida

    Blog

    The Pinellas County School District is losing its director of strategic communications.

    Donna Winchester, who has worked for the school system since 2009, has accepted a job at the University of Florida. She will be the communications director at UF, leading the UF Rising and Preeminence media relations initiatives. Her last day with the school district is Aug. 15.  ...