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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. Florida education news: Homelessness, short-shorts, capital projects and more


    HOMELESSNESS: Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton schools have more homeless students than many in the communities realize, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports. 

    HISTORIC: The Seminole school district shuts down one of its oldest schools, My News 13 reports....

  2. Florida education news: School zones, STEM lessons, home schooling and more


    REZONING: Hernando officials seek parent feedback on proposed attendance zone changes aimed at filling under-capacity schools.

    STEM: Moffit Cancer Center and the Hillsborough Education Foundation partner to offer students more access to STEM career options....

  3. Schools still can get digital classroom funding, Florida education commissioner says


    Education commissioner Pam Stewart has repeated the Governor's Office contention that her department may release $60 million in classroom technology funding despite the governor's veto of a study lawmakers had attached to the money.

    The governor's staff argued the veto simply deleted the connection between the analysis and the money. Stewart took the same position:...

  4. 'We came for medals!' Team USA from Pasco wins Special Olympics soccer bronze


    The Land O'Lakes High School unified soccer team, representing the USA, defeated China 2-1 on Friday to claim the bronze medal at the World Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Needless to say, the players were excited.

    Andy Dunn, the district's videographer, was there.

  5. Pasco teachers, district closer to deal on evaluations


    Pasco school district officials an evaluation system in which fewer teachers attain a "highly effective" rating. United School Employees of Pasco leaders aim to keep that score open to as many teachers as possible.

    They expect to land somewhere in between.

    Early in the week, the union took a step toward the district's position, acknowledging a teacher should have at least one "innovating" mark on an evaluation to be considered "highly effective." On Thursday, district negotiators edged slightly closer to the union view, cutting their proposal for the percentage of "innovating" elements to 40 percent (down from 60 percent) in 2015-16, and 50 percent the following year....

  6. Is there time for Florida teachers to retake the ACT and get a $10K bonus?


    Florida's Best and Brightest teacher scholarship program continues to get attention -- much of it negative -- as teachers and organizations review all the ins and outs of how the bonus will work....

  7. Florida education news: Speech therapy, summer enrichment, athletic trainers and more


    THERAPISTS NEEDED: The Pasco school district struggles to hire and retain qualified speech language pathologists.

    BACK TO SCHOOL: Need info on the start of school in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando? Check out our back to school section....

  8. Hernando schools to get new public face


    The Hernando County school district has plucked its new communications and public information director from neighboring Citrus County schools.

    Karen Jordan, a program specialist for the Citrus district, is set to take over the public speaking function for Hernando the week after next. She replaces Eric Williams, who was promoted to deputy superintendent.

    Williams moved to his new post earlier this summer. Patrick Keough has filled in as spokesman but is expected to hand back that role after Jordan's arrival....

  9. Meet Pasco County's new principals


    Students at these schools will start the 2015-16 academic year with new principals. Here's a look at who these leaders are.

    Fivay High

    Marsha Van Hook

    Van Hook joined the school district in 2013 as a principal coach. She has been a secondary principal in other states.

    Pasco Elem.

    Nena Green

    Green became Pasco Elementary's assistant principal in 2012, when she joined the district....

    Angie Stone
  10. Pasco non-instructional employees take steps away from steps


    The Pasco school district's non-instruction employee bargaining team did not conclude contract negotiations Wednesday, as hoped, during a daylong bargaining session.

    United School Employees of Pasco lead negotiator Jim Ciadella said he felt positive about the talks, and that the sides were close enough to agreement to plan another meeting for Monday.

    "Given another session or two, we can settle the contract," Ciadella said....

  11. Pasco schools struggle to hire and keep speech pathologists


    LAND O'LAKES — When it comes to providing speech and language therapy to students, Pasco County schools have few options.

    Federal special education law requires that the children receive needed services.

    Finding enough qualified professionals to do the work, however, is proving problematic. The district has 15 vacant speech-language pathologist jobs, of 126 — eight left over the summer — and admits its pay doesn't attract enough candidates....

  12. Pasco school district sticks with plans to sell Zephyrhills property to developer


    Despite complaints from Zephyrhills residents, the Pasco County School Board is moving ahead with plans to sell a 15.5-acre park to a developer rather than the city government.

    Some people held out hope that school district officials had changed their mind after they withdrew the $2.32 million contract from their July 28 agenda. To the contrary, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe explained, the administration simply wanted to give board members more time to review the terms....

  13. Florida education news: Deputies, suspensions, bank accounts and more


    BACK TO SCHOOL: Tampa area students, parents, teachers and others talk about what it means to return to classes after summer break.

    SECURITY: The Hernando School Board agrees to terms placing deputies at all middle and high schools....

  14. Pinellas teachers get contract choices


    Salary steps? Or performance pay?

    That is the question Pinellas County teachers face this summer.

    District officials sent faculty a memo this week telling them that, for the first time, teachers on continuing or professional services contracts have the option to move to a performance pay schedule. They could see much larger raises if they have strong performance evaluations, thanks to state law....

  15. What if we treated teachers like athletes?


    As school districts and teacher unions across Florida negotiate contracts this summer, consider this Key and Peele piece on Comedy Central. They host Teaching Center, a la ESPN's Sports Center complete with sponsors, highlighting teacher trades, plays of the day and even the draft, in which the school with the lowest test scores gets first pick of top newcomers.

    "Just like that you're a millionaire," effuses host Jordan Peele, as he views the top choice teacher. "Mike Yoast is an incredible story. His father, living from paycheck to paycheck as a humble pro football player. Kid was a natural mathlete."...