Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek writes about schools and education for the Tampa Bay Times. Solochek has covered the school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 2000. He also oversees The Gradebook education blog.

Phone: (813) 909-4614


Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

  1. Florida education commissioner blasts Pearson, will seek damages


    Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart has fired off an angry letter to Pearson head of state services Walter Sherwood over the company's latest problems administering the FCAT exams.

    Stewart blamed the company for computer troubles that prompted school districts across the state to suspend testing, and criticized the firm for downplaying the situation as "frustrating" on its online status website....

  2. Headhunter firm contacts Pasco superintendent again


    For the second time in six months, the Iowa-based search firm Ray and Associates has reached out to Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning, asking him to consider a superintendency elsewhere.

    This time, the group has invited Browning to apply for the top job in the Jefferson County, Colorado, school system, just outside Denver. That district is slightly larger than Pasco, but pays its superintendent about double what Browning earns....

  3. Florida school districts suspend online FCAT after glitches


    Problems with Florida's annual FCAT test on Tuesday rekindled simmering concerns that the state isn't ready for its next steps toward full computerized testing.

    At least a dozen Florida school districts, including Pasco and Hernando, were forced to suspend online testing Tuesday as students had trouble signing in to take the annual exam. No problems were reported in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties....

    At least a dozen Florida school districts, including Pasco and Hernando, were forced to suspend online testing Tuesday as students had trouble signing in to take the annual exam. No problems were reported in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.
  4. Pasco schools suspend FCAT testing amid computer problems


    The Pasco County school district has advised its schools to suspend FCAT testing Tuesday morning because of computer issues.

    "Kids are having troubles signing in," district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe explained, saying the issue is affecting fifth grade math, and seventh and ninth grade reading.

    In a memo to principals, accountability and measurement director Peggy Jones said other districts, including Leon, Seminole and Brevard appeared to be having similar difficulties. "We are not certain if this is Pearson-based (or) the Internet provider. We will continue to work on a resolution and will notify you."...

  5. Florida education news: In-state tuition, VAM scores, dog therapy and more


    POLITICAL MANEUVERS: State Sen. Jack Latvala offers amendments to four separate bills in an effort to keep alive the idea of in-state tuition for illegal immigrant residents. • A group of students lobbies Senate president Don Gaetz to let the tuition bill be heard, WFSU reports....

  6. Pasco student musician jams district elevator


    The Pasco County school district main office has undergone a face lift in recent weeks, receiving new flooring, lighting and a paint job. New student photos also have gone up, including on the lobby elevator doors.

    Mitchell High saxophonist Kyle Schroeder is featured on the door on the left. He found it so cool that he created a little elevator music to celebrate. Check it out below.


  7. Pasco eSchool seeks summer enrollments as graduation rules change


    Starting with next year's seniors, all Florida high school students will have to complete at least one online course to graduate.

    With new state funding rules in place, local school districts don't want to lose those students to Florida Virtual School.

    The Pasco County school district aims to meet both pieces of the puzzle, by contacting parents of students who have yet to meet the requirement and letting them know that Pasco eSchool is there for them....

  8. Florida education news: A-Plus plan, teen parents, fine arts and more


    TRANSPORTATION TURMOIL: Hillsborough's student transportation department continues to struggle with management problems and high-level departures.

    FALLOUT: A proposal to split the joint FSU-FAMU engineering department could cause political problems for Gov. Rick Scott....

  9. Clearwater nurse shot to death; boyfriend is charged


    CLEARWATER — A Clearwater woman was shot and killed by her boyfriend early Sunday morning during a birthday party at her home in the Countrypark subdivision, police said.

    Josephine Austria's boyfriend, Alexander Richardson of Clearwater, has been arrested in her death and charged with second-degree murder. Richardson, 24, was also charged with using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, according to the Clearwater Police Department....

    Alexander Richardson, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the Sunday shooting.
  10. Florida education news: Prom-posals, job cuts, computer testing and more


    PROM-POSALS: A St. Petersburg High junior perfects the art of inviting his date to the prom.

    STAFF CUTS: The Pinellas district plans to eliminate hundreds of positions that assist students with special needs....

  11. Florida education news: Start times, recess, extended day and more


    BELL TIMES: Hernando parents raise concerns about changes to their children's school start and end times.

    RECESS: Pasco elementary school leaders view play time as important as academic lessons in their students' day....

  12. Playgrounds, recess as important as testing, class time, Pasco principals say


    LAND O'LAKES — Karley Green stared wide-eyed at the newly renovated playground behind the yellow ribbon and the shiny gold helium balloons.

    Connerton Elementary School's outdoor play area had been closed for a year, as workers replaced equipment and ground cover to make it safer and more accessible to all children, including those with disabilities.

    The $75,000 project was now complete, and the school's 970 students gathered for the grand reopening last week. A few speeches and lots of cheering later, the kids got to test the wheelchair-friendly glider, the soft padded flooring, the zip line and more....

    Connerton Elementary students Darren Butler, left, Damion Mitchell, Dominique King, Jonathan Hollis and Miranda Petrillo check out the jungle gym at the school’s newly renovated playground, which received $75,000 in upgrades.
  13. Pasco superintendent urges parents to monitor kids' social media


    Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning sent a phone message home to middle and high school parents on Friday, reminding them to keep on top of what their kids might be doing on social media sites.

    Some parents complained to the district about a site on Twitter called PascoCrushes, on which teens are making some vulgar and inappropriate comments about others in the community. The district has asked the account, which has nearly 1,800 followers, to delete many of the comments....

  14. Pasco charter school for students with autism to close


    Florida Autism Center of Excellence-Pasco, a charter school that opened in August, will close at the end of the academic year. The school's Board of Directors voted Thursday to dissolve, just days after their management company Quest Inc. announced it would walk away from the school amid low enrollment and struggling finances....

  15. Florida education news: Tuition, transportation, innovation and more


    TUITION: A bill to grant in-state tuition to illegal immigrants stalls as a key Florida senator blocks its next committee hearing.

    SHUTTLE SERVICE: The Hillsborough school district will provide transportation to students who must cross busy Hillsborough Avenue to Middleton High....