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. Pasco School Board looks at superintendent replacement rule, just in case


    The Pasco County school district remains the largest in the country to elect rather than appoint its superintendent. That status gives the local School Board very little say, outside the ballot box, on who its chief executive will be.

    Even, so, the board this week began to carve out a tiny piece of control for itself, in the odd instance where the governor might suspend the superintendent and not appoint a new one....

  2. Florida education news: Class size, testing, truancy and more


    CLASS SIZE: Pinellas district officials stand behind their use of substitute teachers to lower class sizes.

    TESTING: The Alachua School Board is the latest to adopt a resolution urging a delay in the high stakes associated with Florida's tests, the Gainesville Sun reports. • The Broward School Board also approved an anti-testing resolution, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • The Volusia School Board's similar stance should be a wake-up call to Tallahassee, the Daytona Beach News-Journal editorializes....

  3. Florida School Boards Association leader announces retirement


    For years, Wayne Blanton has been the face and the voice of Florida school boards. He's advocated loudly in the Legislature, and helped many boards select their superintendents.

    His days in that role are now numbered. He announced Tuesday his plan to retire just before the start of the 2015 legislative session. Here's what he said in his email to education leaders around the state:

    "It has been my honor and privilege to represent school boards and school board members for the last 40 years. My professional career has been dedicated to representing public education and assisting local school boards to be the “Voice of Education” throughout Florida. The friendships I have made and the professional relationships that have been developed over the past 40 years will never be replaced or forgotten. Upon deep personal and professional reflection, I will be retiring at the end of February, 2015....

  4. Jeb Bush's foundation calls for fewer, better tests in Florida


    You know that concern over testing in Florida has hit its boiling point when Jeb Bush's Foundation for Excellence in Education issues a letter to parents with the headline "Fewer Tests. Better Tests."...

  5. Florida education news: Politics, absenteeism, testing resolutions and more


    RAISES: Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia promises district bus drivers raises and better training.

    RACES: Too much politics, not enough policy discussion in Hillsborough School Board races, the Times editorializes. • Pro-voucher groups start pouring money into Sarasota School Board races, the Herald-Tribune reports....

  6. Florida education news: Grade retention, school grades, taxes and more


    RETENTION: Pinellas elementary schools stop holding back struggling students in the youngest grades.

    POLITICS AND STANDARDS: Anti-Common Core activists urge support of Gov. Rick Scott despite his limited moves to kill the standards....

  7. Florida education news: English language learners, charter schools, bus rides and more


    ENGLISH-LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Activists push Florida leaders to create more fairness and accuracy in accountability for English-language learners. • First Coast Technical College offers more assistance to students still learning English, the St. Augustine Record reports....

  8. State, federal government wrestle over testing for students learning English


    In just four days last week, 10 new families enrolled their children at Leto High School, in Hillsborough County's heavily Hispanic Town 'N Country community.

    Most of the teens had limited English skills. They spoke Spanish.

    That put them in good company: One in four Leto students is an English language learner, often referred to as ELL's. But the influx concerned assistant principal Hilda Genco, who knows state and federal testing rules don't give English learners much leeway....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott, left, and Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, meet with children before a news conference at a Miami school in August. Scott and Carvalho are asking the U.S. Department of Education not to hold Florida schools and teachers accountable for English language learners until after two years of instruction
  9. Florida education news: Careers, charters, policies and more


    CAREER PLANNING: Pinellas high school students gain access to a new program aimed at helping them focus their future.

    CHARTER SCHOOLS: All but one applicant withdraw from consideration before the Sarasota School Board, the Herald-Tribune reports....

  10. Former Zephyrhills High principal Van Gorden barred from teaching in Florida


    Two years after resigning as Zephyrhills High School principal under a cloud of sexual harassment accusations, Steve Van Gorden has been banned from ever returning to any classroom or school in Florida.

    The Florida Education Practices Commission on Friday released its formal order permanently revoking Van Gorden's teaching certificate, and further stating he may never seek another one....

  11. Gov. Rick Scott calls on USDOE to hold hearing on ELL testing dispute


    As promised, the state of Florida took its next step Friday in challenging the federal government's rejection of Florida's testing rules for English language learners.

    Gov. Rick Scott sent a letter to U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan asking for a formal hearing before the Office of Administrative Law Judges over the federal position....

  12. Principals wanted for Pasco County schools


    The Pasco County school district is looking for three people to lead schools it plans to open next fall.

    Each school is under construction, and superintendent Kurt Browning has said he wants principals in place to help guide hiring and academic choices.

    First up is Sanders Elementary School, which is slated to become Pasco's first magnet school. The application period for that top job ends this afternoon. With families set to begin applying for spots in the school before the year ends, the goal is to have an administration and teaching staff on board this fall....

  13. New, cheaper Florida prepaid tuition plans now available


    Florida's lower-cost prepaid tuition plans went on sale this week, along with refunds to families who paid higher amounts over the past several years.

    The price reduction comes as a result of efforts in Tallahassee to keep the cost of attending university more affordable for families. Lawmakers altered rules that had allowed for automatic yearly tuition increases....

  14. Florida education news: Priorities, snacks, incentives and more


    PRIORITIES: Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning says he will refocus his district more tightly on its core mission and vision.

    MAKING PLANS: The Pinellas Education Foundation unveils a new career development program for high school students....

  15. Pasco contract talks canceled, raising questions about raises before winter break


    Pasco County teachers might not be getting a bump in pay in time for the holidays this year.

    Representatives from the district and United School Employees of Pasco agreed to cancel a bargaining session scheduled for Thursday evening, to provide more time to prepare.

    USEP negotiator Jim Ciadella requested the delay, saying the district's "extensive" financial proposal required more review. At the same time, he told the district, the union also is getting ready for a grievance hearing before the School Board....