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. Biometrics leaders worry Florida law is just the beginning


    Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers banned school districts from collecting student biometric information, such as fingerprints. The move came amid rising concerns about how much personal data the government might keep about children and their families, prompted by Common Core fears.

    Now leaders in the Real ID industry worried that Florida is yet again on the leading edge of change about to sweep other states....

  2. Pasco's Wiregrass Ranch High students to get earlier wakeup call


    Forget later start times.

    Students at Pasco County's Wiregrass Ranch High School soon will have to set their alarm clocks a little earlier to make it to class on time.

    Wiregrass Ranch, in a fast-growing section of Wesley Chapel, continues to burst at the seams despite a 2010-11 attendance zone shift aimed at offering it relief. Average daily attendance there after a month of classes was just over 2,300 in the classrooms built for about 1,700 students....

  3. Florida education news: Graduation ceremonies, vaccinations, Trojan Man and more


    GRADUATION DAY: The Hillsborough school district reorganizes its high school graduation plans to make the events more pleasant for graduates and guests.

    FLORIDA MODEL: Michigan leaders look at Florida's education efforts as they consider ways to improve their state's system, Bridge Michigan reports....

  4. Pasco district cracks top 50 largest U.S. school systems


    The Pasco County school district, which for years before the recession was one of the nation's fastest growing, is back on the rise.

    According to American School & University, Pasco was one of 10 "significant growth districts" in the past year, alongside Gwinnett County, Ga., Denver, Colo., and Jefferson County, Ky. All experienced enrollment increases of 3 percent or more....

  5. Pasco school copes with bat droppings


    Coach Pennye Garcia noticed the unbearable smell outside Sunlake High School's media center immediately upon her return to school in August.

    Soon came the hoarseness and coughing. Before long, she told officials in an e-mail, she felt ill like never before. 

    Within two weeks, the cause suspect became clear: Bat guano....

  6. Florida education news: Testing, school closures, American flags and more


    TESTING: Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart says she has little authority to meet the testing-related requests that superintendents, school board members, parent groups and others are making.

    CHARTER SCHOOLS: A group withdraws its application to open a charter school at MacDill Air Force Base....

  7. Pasco school district lifts hiring freeze


    Pasco County elementary schools are once again free to hire teachers.

    The district imposed a hiring freeze at the start of the academic year, while watching to see how enrollment spread across the district. Officials did not want to add employees at campuses that needed them without making sure that under-enrolled schools did not need to lose positions. See how average daily membership at the schools looked after a month of classes here....

  8. Florida testing debate moves to State Board of Education


    Hillsborough schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia brought mounting concerns over state tests to the Florida Board of Education on Monday, saying districts aren't ready to administer them.

    She called for a one-year respite in state school grades. She said students also should be held harmless from the penalties attached to this year's results. And she proposed reducing the percentage of a teacher's evaluation that is tied directly to assessments....

  9. Florida Board of Education hears more worries about new school testing


    TAMPA — Florida school districts are ill-prepared to administer state tests this spring and should get a one-year respite from school grades, Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia told the state Board of Education on Monday.

    Her comments reflect what other Florida superintendents have been saying for months, and they echoed mounting public concern over state testing....

    MaryEllen Elia wants to delay the effects of the new tests.
  10. Florida Board of Education approves rules for newest voucher program


    With almost no discussion, the Florida Board of Education on Monday approved new rules governing the state's newest voucher program.

    The Personal Learning Scholarship Account, established in the most recent legislative session, faced a legal challenge as recently as a week ago. But a circuit court judge cleared the path to giving the education money to children with disabilities, allowing the model to move forward....

  11. Florida education news: Rick Scott's letters, K-8 schools, free food and more


    JOB? OR POLITICS? Questions arise about the letters with political messages supporting Gov. Rick Scott sent out to Florida students, teachers and families, the Miami Herald reports.

    STAY WELL: A Florida group will provide flu vaccinations to 200,000 school students, Florida Today reports....

  12. Florida education news: Social media, dance lessons, reading time and more


    PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT: Some Hillsborough parents turn to social media shaming after they fail to get desired results from school officials.

    DANCE FEVER: A Johns Hopkins Middle School dance teacher finds his meaning in helping students....

  13. Florida education news: Charter schools, immigrant students, teacher discipline and more


    CHARTER SCHOOLS: Proponents for a charter school at MacDill AFB might ask the Hillsborough School Board not to hear their application.

    PRESIDENT SEARCH: Florida State University spent more than $160,000 on a search that ended just as most people expected, raising questions about the expense....

  14. Pasco teachers union asks for time to consider grievance options


    As expected, Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning rejected a class-action teacher grievance contending that the administration was abusing teacher planning time.

    Rather than file an immediate appeal, the United School Employees of Pasco has asked for extra time to decide its next step. The USEP also has filed a formal complaint with the state Public Employees Relations Commission over the issue, but it has been inactive while the union pursued its local action....

  15. Pasco school district considers new logo


    New administration. New strategic plan. New school choices.

    Why not a new look, too?

    The Pasco County school district administration is considering which new logo it wants to use. The third one has gotten the most votes on the district's Facebook page....