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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. Seven Oaks board says afternoon traffic at elementary school is a safety concern



    For about an hour every school-day afternoon, lightly traveled Mystic Oak Boulevard becomes a traffic snarl.

    The Seven Oaks Community Development District wants to put an end to it.

    Specifically, it wants parents to stop "illegally parking" on the road while waiting to pick up their children at Seven Oaks Elementary School, citing safety concerns over a clogged roadway....

    Crossing guard Jeanine Talbot stops traffic on Mystic Oak Boulevard in front of Seven Oaks Elementary, where parents park on the road while waiting for students.
  2. Florida superintendents talk testing with Gov. Rick Scott


    Nine superintendents met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and education commissioner Pam Stewart on Wednesday to talk about testing.  Nothing really new was said. It was just presented to the governor in person.

    Afterward, Florida Association of District School Superintendents leader Bill Montford sent its members a brief synopsis of their key points:...

  3. Florida education news: Superintendents, physical education, teacher pay and more


    SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: The Hillsborough School Board will talk about its next steps to replace MaryEllen Elia at a Tuesday meeting. • The Palm Beach School Board forges ahead with its superintendent search, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Outgoing Volusia superintendent Margaret Smith defends herself against accusations of poor management, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports....

  4. Changes have increased the number of substitute teachers, but bus drivers are needed


    The Pasco County School District's effort to attract and retain more substitute teachers has begun to work.

    At the start of the year, the district had 675 instructional and non-instructional substitutes on file. Now, it has 1,003, of which 872 are instructional.

    But it's not necessarily for the reasons you might imagine.

    The district didn't increase its pay, as some educators have recommended. It didn't hire a temporary employment firm, as other districts have done....

  5. Hernando school district wins reaccreditation


    AdvancED announced its reaccreditation of the Hernando County school district on Wednesday.

    The decision came after a thorough review including interviews with more than 200 employees.

    “This is a great school district,” lead evaluator David Gullatt said in a released statement. “We were able to identify several powerful practices in Hernando County that folks in other districts would certainly benefit from knowing more about.”...

  6. Pasco schools nurse named top in Florida


    Kathy Browning, a nurse at Pasco's Lacoochee Elementary School, has been named 2015 Florida School Nurse of the Year by the Florida School Nurses Association.

    Browning, the wife of superintendent Kurt Browning, has worked for the school district since 1992 except for a two-year break. 

    She was nominated for the award by several administrators and a Lacoochee fifth grader, James Royal....

  7. FLVS gets new board chair as past leader steps down


    Michael Olenick, recently appointed to the Florida Board of Education, has stepped down as chairman of the Florida Virtual School board of trustees.

    The trustees on Tuesday selected Lady Dhyana Ziegler to step into the leadership position. 

    Ziegler, who has been the board's vice chair for four years, is the Garth C. Reeves Eminent Scholar Endowed Chair of Excellence in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at Florida A&M University. She previously held several administrative jobs at the university.  She was knighted as a Dame of Justice in England in 2008....

  8. Florida education news: Student voices, testing resolutions, African-American education and more


    STUDENTS SPEAK: Hillsborough high school students get to meet with district leaders, and they discuss education rather than politics.

    TESTING: The Pinellas School Board joins the crowd of districts clamoring for changes to Florida's testing and accountability system....

  9. Field of applicants for PHSC president narrowed to a dozen


    NEW PORT RICHEY — For the first time in a decade, Pasco-Hernando State College needs a new leader. And the search committee charged with finding top applicants wants to make sure they find the best match.

    So when the panel met Tuesday, it recommended 12 candidates for trustees to interview via videoconference — even though only four had more than half of the members' votes.

    "Certainly they're qualified, and maybe they're the most qualified. But are they the right fit? That's what the phone interviews will tell us," search committee chairman Ed Blommel said....

  10. Search committee recommends 12 candidates for PHSC president


    An advisory panel has selected a dozen applicants for Pasco-Hernando State College trustees to interview as their potential next president.

    The candidate receiving the most votes -- 20 of 23 -- was PHSC vice president Tim Beard, who has been with the school since 2007.

    Other hopefuls receiving 10 or more votes were Richard Schrubb, former president, Minnesota West Community and Technical College; Steven Burrell, vice president at Georgia Southern University; Stanley Giannet, PHSC Porter Campus provost; and Flora Tydings, president, Athens Technical College, Ga....

  11. Report roundup: Florida gets good marks for its pension, charter school policies


    Two advocacy groups have issued reports giving Florida strong praise for its policies.

    The National Center on Teacher Quality gave the state a B- grade for its teacher pension program, compared to a national average score of C-. The group noted that Florida is better than most states in that it gives teachers options of how to invest their money, and because it has a stable, well-funded system....

  12. Florida education commissioner says testing opt-out isn't an option


    Thinking about opting out of Florida's annual state testing system? Think again.

    In response to state senators' questions about the ins and outs of opt-out, education commissioner Pam Stewart wrote that students are required to take the tests and teachers could face disciplinary action if they actively encourage skipping the exams....

  13. Florida education news: Budget surplus, recognition funds, superintendents and more


    FUNDING: The Florida Legislature anticipates a $1 billion surplus with plans to boost education funding, the Bradenton Herald reports.

    ANNUAL REVIEW: Duval superintendent Nikolai Vitti gives himself a strong self-evaluation, the Florida Times-Union reports....

  14. Several local educators seek Pasco-Hernando State College presidency


    Pasco-Hernando State College is looking for a new president to replace Katherine Johnson, who retires in June after 11 years with the school.

    A search committee plans to whittle down a list of qualified applicants when it meets Tuesday, so trustees have a manageable group of candidates to evaluate....

  15. Florida education commissioner names new K-12 chancellor from Alachua County


    Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart has named Hershel Lyons, deputy superintendent of Alachua County schools, as the state's new K-12 chancellor.

    Lyons replaces Stewart, who held the job before becoming commissioner and continued to do the work in the interim.

    The news came from the Governor's Office rather than the Department of Education.

    Lyons started working in Alachua schools as a teacher aide and coach at Gainesville High School before being promoted to a variety of leadership positions, including Assistant Principal of Santa Fe and Buchholz High Schools; Principal of Oak View Middle School and Principal of Newberry High School. During the last decade, he served in administrative roles at the district level, and as an Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources from 2005 until he was appointed to his current position in October 2013....