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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. Lawyers make final arguments in west Pasco school rezoning case

    Blog

    Many words were spoken during two days of testimony as west Pasco County parents challenged the School Board's rezoning of their neighborhood middle and high schools in late February....

    Parents and school district officials attend the first of four advisory committee meetings to discuss west Pasco middle and high school attendance zones in fall 2016.
  2. New principal appointed to Trinity Elementary in Pasco County

    Blog

    Former Connerton Elementary School principal Aimee Boltze has been named to take over Trinity Elementary on April 5.

    Boltze, currently an assistant principal at Watergrass Elementary, replaces Cortney Gantt, who transferred to Seven Springs Middle School in early March. The appointment fills the final principal vacancy in Pasco County after a round robin of position swaps sparked by an unexpected death and a promotion....

  3. Concern mounts over textbook, coding bills as they gain steam in Florida Legislature

    Blog

    Two bills that hadn't moved in past sessions of the Florida Legislature gained momentum this week as key committees recommended their approval with little lawmaker dissent.

    The advancement of measures on textbook challenges (HB 989 / SB 1210) and computer coding (HB 265 / SB 104) prompted critics to move into high gear in explaining their concerns with the language in each....

  4. Gradebook podcast: Getting a real look inside schools, not the 'dog and pony version'

    Blog

    Reporter Jeff Solochek speaks with Shawn Frost, president of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members, about a bill that would allow board members to visit schools. Right now, in some instances, elected school board members are barred from such visits, which Frost says can prevent them from seeing what's really going on in schools.

    ...

    In this 2012 photo, Candy Olson, then a Hillsborough County School Board member, takes part in a music class at Mitchell Elementary. Board members aren't always welcome for school visits in some Florida counties. A bill supported by the Florida Coalition of School Board Members aims to change that.
  5. Bill limiting teacher job guarantees winds its way through Legislature

    K12

    A controversial bill to stop Florida school boards from offering extended job guarantees to teachers on annual contract is moving through the Florida Legislature, despite some strong opposition.

    The outcome could vindicate the Pasco County School District's refusal to amend teacher contracts, or bolster the United School Employees of Pasco's position that educators on annual contracts with strong evaluations should automatically get another year on the job....

  6. Florida Senate PreK-12 Appopriations chair proposes increases in prekindergarten, per-student funding

    Blog

    Florida's prekindergarten through high school public education system could see increases in funding under the budget proposal unveiled Tuesday in the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

    Chairman Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said the spending plan would bring the state's voluntary prekindergarten program to its highest level of funding since its creation 15 years ago. It also would bump up per-student K-12 funding 2.91 percent, a higher percentage than in three of the past five years, Simmons said....

  7. Pasco County school impact fee advisory committee seeks input

    Blog

    Care about whether the Pasco County Commission increases school impact fees? The county's 10-person impact fee advisory committee will take public comment at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

    The committee, comprised of five commission appointees and five School Board appointees, will hold its first meeting Wednesday to begin considering the board's request for a near doubling of the charge made on new home construction....

  8. Florida education news: Testing, textbooks, coding and more

    Blog

    TESTING: The Florida Senate Education Committee delays consideration of testing reform legislation amid disputes over process, the Times/Herald reports. Entering the meeting, some leaders were prepared to merge two competing bills into one. More from the News Service of Florida, Tallahassee Democrat....

  9. House, Senate advance bills making it easier to challenge school books, materials

    Blog

    In the face of parent and community complaints about the content of some school books and materials, Florida lawmakers on Monday moved ahead legislation to make it easier to see what schools are using and challenge the items.

    HB 989 and SB 1210 aim to build upon an effort three years ago to give local school districts more control over the materials used in their schools. Amended amid concerns of initially going too far, the bills would give parents and community residents more access to the books inside the schools, and require districts to establish processes for parents and residents to object to items in use....

    A Pasco County parent reviews a novel that some parents objected to as inappropriate for middle school children in 2016.
  10. Florida Senate Education Committee postpones consideration of testing bill

    Blog

    With several potentially contentious amendments filed and less than 30 minutes remaining for its meeting, the Florida Senate Education Committee narrowly decided Monday to postpone consideration of SB 926, which is poised to become the primary vehicle this session to alter the state's testing system....

  11. This time, no delays expected for Pasco County report cards

    Blog

    At the end of the first semester, Pasco County schools delayed delivery of student report cards, and then missed that second deadline, too.

    The issue boiled down to problems with a new data system, and incorrect calculations. Officials pledged at the ultimate release of the report cards that the scenario would not repeat itself....

  12. Eyes turn to Florida Senate Education Committee for testing debate

    Blog

    Social media heated up over the weekend as Florida parents and activists seeking changes to the state's high-stakes testing and accountability system tried to raise attention to Monday's Senate Education Committee session.

    The committee, which meets at 1:30 p.m. (watch on The Florida Channel), is to feature debate and a vote on this year's primary testing legislation. It looks to be Sen. Anitere Flores' SB 926, nicknamed the "Fewer, Better Tests" bill to the chagrin of critics who note it does little to eliminate or improve state exams. ...

    Sen. David Simmons
  13. Florida education news: School visits, testing, teacher contracts and more

    Blog

    SCHOOL VISITS: Sen. Anitere Flores seeks to give Florida school board members access to schools in their districts without interference.

    TESTING: Sen. Flores brings her "Fewer, Better Tests" bill to the Education Committee while a more expansive bill by Sen. Bill Montford waits, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Sen. Montford remains optimistic his ideas will be heard at some point in the process. Testing legislation is among nine key bills that could affect Florida education, Florida Today reports....

  14. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of March 19, 2017

    Blog

    It was another active week for Florida education news, with controversial measures moving through the Legislature and new revelations about achievement and access gaps for minority children. A federal judge allowed immigrant families to pursue their lawsuit alleging Collier County schools denied their children an education, and the Jefferson County School Board approved a contract to have all its schools run by a charter operator....

  15. Senator proposes more autonomy for Florida school board members visiting schools

    Blog

    Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has offered an amendment to her testing legislation that has nothing to do with testing at all.

    Rather, Flores has proposed 21 lines that would ensure school board members have unfettered access to schools in their districts. The amendment would allow individual board members to visit any traditional or charter school "on any day and at any time at his or her pleasure."...