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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

Email: jsolochek@tampabay.com

Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

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  1. Pasco School Board approves new attendance zones for thousands of students

    Blog

    Thousands of Pasco County students will be going to different schools next fall, after the School Board adopted new attendance boundaries aimed at easing crowding at some campuses and filling open seats at others.

    The board approved three separate proposals, two of which generated much anger and debate over the past several months. The plans, recommended by superintendent Kurt Browning, were:...

    Parents spoke for nearly two hours Tuesday before the Pasco County School Board voted on new attendance boundaries.
  2. Superintendent amends rezoning recommendation for west Pasco schools

    Blog

    With a public hearing just hours away, Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning has slightly altered his recommendation on attendance zone revisions for southwest county middle and high schools.

    The changes involve the Deer Park communities slated to be reassigned from the River Ridge middle-high zone to the Gulf middle-high zone....

  3. Clay County schools suspend all district-level tests

    Blog

    Two days after Florida senators greeted ideas to scale back state testing, the Clay County superintendent took action.

    Superintendent Addison Davis announced he would suspend all county-mandated testing, effective immediately. Like superintendents who testified before the Senate Education Appropriations committee, Davis told Action News Jax he wanted to give students and teachers more time in the classroom....

  4. Florida GOP leaders back Betsy DeVos for U.S. Education secretary

    Blog

    With Betsy DeVos' U.S. Senate confirmation hearing on tap today, some notable Florida conservatives have unsurprisingly put their backing behind the billionaire charter school and voucher advocate to become the federal education secretary.

    Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a key early promoter of charters and vouchers, penned a piece in USA Today calling Donald Trump's choice "inspired."...

  5. Mystery surrounds missing money of Sunlake High athletic boosters

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    Slightly more than $20,000 collected by the Sunlake High School Athletic Booster Club cannot be accounted for because of lax record keeping and poor reporting, an internal audit by the Pasco County School District shows. Officials are preparing to ask law enforcement to investigate.

    This incident comes just more than a year after the school's Band Boosters treasurer was arrested and charged with stealing more than $46,000 from that group. She pled guilty and has repaid the school....

    Deputy superintendent of schools Ray Gadd says Sunlake High School is implementing procedures to prevent future problems with the way booster club money is handled and accounted for.
  6. Florida education news: Attendance zones, business school, free breakfast and more

    Blog

    SCHOOL ZONES: The Pasco County School Board holds its final public hearing Tuesday before voting on controversial new student attendance boundaries.

    THAT'S BUSINESS: The University of South Florida St. Petersburg debuts its new business school building....

  7. No 'perfect solution' as Pasco School Board prepares to set new school zones

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    Hundreds of Pasco County public school students will learn tonight whether they'll be reassigned to new schools in the fall.

    The Pasco School Board will have public hearings, beginning at 6 p.m., and then vote on proposed changes to middle and high school attendance zones in both the eastern and southwestern portions of the county.

    Board chairman Allen Altman held no illusion that everyone will come away happy. Complaints have come in at a rapid pace, as parents have called the line-drawing process flawed and said the pending recommendations don't line up with the facts....

    An advisory committee for East Pasco middle and high school zones convened Dec. 2, 2016 in the Wesley Chapel high school gym, one of several meetings leading up to Tuesday's final decision by the School Board. [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times]
  8. No new rezoning recommendations for Pasco County School Board

    Blog

    Despite furious efforts from concerned parents, the Pasco County school district administration has not changed its recommendations on two school attendance zone revisions headed to the School Board on Tuesday.

    "I haven't heard of any new recommendations," board chairman Allen Altman told the Gradebook.

    Staff members have "worked on other reviews of material provided" by residents seeking to have the proposals changed, he said. But the board has not received any amended suggestions from the superintendent or his team, Altman said....

  9. Florida education news: Forensics, Martin Luther King Jr., old schools and more

    Blog

    FORENSIC STUDIES: The University of South Florida and Pasco-Hernando State College seek state funding to bring a forensic anthropology research center to Pasco County.

    MLK DAY: St. Johns schools teach the story of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. but often ignore his local activities in their communities, the St. Augustine Record reports....

  10. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Jan. 8, 2017

    Blog

    The Florida Legislature offered some early glimpses at some of the education fireworks we can expect in the coming months. Senators took aim at the state's testing and accountability model first devised under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, suggesting it had grown too burdensome. Chances for change? Likely, according to various lobbyists in close. The Senate also introduced legislation to improve higher education, focusing on affordability and on-time graduation. It's a shared priority of the Senate president and the governor, so this, too, appears to have legs. House members, meanwhile, took aim at spending, calling for major cuts in all budget areas including education. State economists say a shortfall is looming so, again, watch for this discussion to move. There was plenty of action at the district and school level, too. Keep up with all the latest Florida education news daily at the Gradebook....

  11. New principal named for Wesley Chapel High School

    Blog

    Danielle "Dee Dee" Johnson, an assistant principal at Wesley Chapel High School, has been chosen as the school's next principal.

    Johnson replaces Carin Hetzler-Nettles, who was appointed to run Cypress Creek Middle-High School, a new campus that opens in the fall. The School Board approved Hetzler-Nettles' new position to begin Jan. 17, the same day that Johnson's name goes to the board for its consideration....

  12. What's the plan for Land O'Lakes High School?

    Blog

    Demolition and renovation work on Land O'Lakes High School is slated to begin this spring, perhaps within days of students' final classes on campus.

    But the project will continue through the 2017-18 academic year and beyond, even with teens in attendance. That decision came after parents complained about a scenario that would have closed the campus for a year....

  13. Florida education news: Teacher award, student voices, school zones and more

    Blog

    TOP TEACHER: Jamerson Elementary third-grade teacher Lukas Hefty is surprised by an announcement he's Florida's only recipient of a Milken Educator Award this year.

    STUDENT VOICES: Hillsborough County students give their School Board an earful on homework, student discipline and other topics of importance to them....

  14. Florida House education budget keeps controversial programs as 'high priority'

    Blog

    Following directions to propose millions of dollars in education spending cuts, Florida House PreK-12 Appropriations chairman Rep. Manny Diaz told his committee members Thursday that no program should be considered sacred.

    "If we're not making people uncomfortable, then we're not doing what we were sent up here to do," said Diaz, a Hialeah Republican....

  15. Internal audit uncovers $20,000 missing from Pasco Sunlake High School sports booster account

    Blog

    Slightly more than $20,000 in money collected by the Sunlake High School Athletic Booster Club can't be accounted for because of lax record keeping and poor reporting, an internal audit by the Pasco County school district shows. Officials are preparing to ask law enforcement to investigate....

    Money collected by the Sunlake High School Athletic Booster Club was to benefit sports teams.