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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. Florida education news: Virtual school, color guard, principal training and more

    Blog

    VIRTUAL SCHOOL: The University of Florida online campus struggles to meet its enrollment projections, the Ocala Star-Banner reports.

    CHARTER SCHOOLS: Florida lawmakers should take more care in their zeal to expand charter schools, the Palm Beach Post editorializes....

  2. Florida education news: Achievement gap, rats, student-athletes and more

    Blog

    ON THE FLOOR: The Florida House approves measures on class size, charter schools, dress codes and school leadership with little conversation.

    ACHIEVEMENT GAP: Jeb Bush gets it Mostly True with his comments that Florida has led the nation in decreasing the gap, Politifact Florida writes....

  3. Florida school administrators' group drops out of voucher lawsuit

    Blog

    In August 2014, the Florida Association of School Administrators joined with a group of education and civic groups to challenge Florida's 13-year-old corporate tax credit scholarship program.

    Executive director Juhan Mixon announced Friday that it would no longer be party to the suit:...

  4. Pasco County schools to begin 2015-16 contract talks early

    Blog

    Pasco County school district leaders hope not to have another year when teachers and other school staff return to classes in the fall not knowing all the terms of their employment.

    That in mind, they've scheduled to begin negotiations for 2015-16 in April.

    "We're going to try to get it done much quicker," employee relations director Betsy Kuhn said. "We think by starting sooner, there is a chance when teachers come back in August, we could have it done."...

  5. Zephyrhills High teachers defend student restroom restrictions

    Blog

    News that Pasco County's Zephyrhills High School would restrict student bathroom use during class time met instant resistance from parents this week. As the story went viral, superintendent Kurt Browning called for the school to change its approach....

  6. Florida education news: Soccer school, dress code, gifted classes and more

    Blog

    FOR FUTBOL: Families learn about a new soccer academy seeking to open in the Tampa area.

    AIMING HIGH: Pasco-Hernando State College new president Tim Beard has big aspirations for the school....

  7. Education commissioner's new advisory committee to meet Friday

    Blog

    Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart's new advisory panel, the Keep Florida Learning Committee, will have its inaugural meeting via conference call starting at 9 a.m. Friday.

    The 11-member group will talk about its public role, covering such things as Sunshine Laws, before setting its guiding principles. Stewart already has made clear she expects that, at a minimum, the committee will review "further deregulation opportunities for the school system, reviewing the instructional material review processes used by school boards, identifying strategies to increase parental involvement in education, and reviewing the implementation of the Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment."...

  8. New PHSC president's goal: nation's top community college award

    College

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Dr. Tim Beard's head was still in the clouds 30 hours after winning trustees' nod to become Pasco-Hernando State College's fourth president.

    Well wishes flooded in from family members, colleagues in academia, and even childhood friends who remembered him as "Timmy" and figured the one-time star running back might have wound up with the Dallas Cowboys rather than running a school....

    “I believe if you want something, you need to ask for it and you need to do it assertively. If I represent this college, I want to be at the table fighting for it.”
Dr. Tim Beard, incoming PHSC president
  9. Questions loom about Hudson murder-suicide that left two boys dead

    Crime

    HUDSON — There were few answers on Thursday about what led a 12-year-old boy to allegedly shoot his two brothers Wednesday night, killing one and injuring the other, before turning the gun on himself.

    Investigators say Kevin Pimentel, remembered as a quiet kid who played with his iPad on the school bus and was in gifted classes, shot and killed his 6-year-old brother, Brady, and injured his 16-year-old brother, Trevor, inside their home. He then shot himself, committing suicide, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said at a news conference Thursday morning....

    Sugar Lane mobile home park in Hudson, where two brothers were killed and a third wounded Wednesday when one of the boys turned the gun on his siblings. [BRENDAN FITTERER   |   Times]
  10. What did Florida senators do about third grade retentions?

    Blog

    After lengthy, sometimes confusing debate Wednesday over Florida's testing and its consequences, the state Senate Appropriations Committee adopted a proposal that would change the rules relating to third-grade retention.

    Reports quickly emerged that the state where likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush launched third-grade retentions based on reading test performance was about to suspend the practice. "If Florida lawmakers agree to the change, it would mark a major departure from a policy pushed into law by then-Gov. Jeb Bush who decried 'social promotion' when he campaigned for governor," the Associated Press wrote....

  11. Florida education news: Third-grade promotion, athletics, music teachers and more

    Blog

    TESTING: The Florida Senate Appropriations Committee tackles third grade promotion issues as it advances a testing reform bill with some key differences from the House version.

    STUDENT ATHLETICS: High school athletics officials have strong reservations about a bill in the Florida House that would change oversight of high school sports....

  12. Pasco School District to join Central Florida coalition

    K12

    The Pasco County School District is about to join forces with several of its neighbors to hash out regional and state education issues, and promote positions of shared interest.

    Superintendent Kurt Browning has told leaders of the Central Florida Public School Boards Coalition that he's ready to participate in the group, which currently has 10 member districts.

    Coalition officials, including Manatee School Board member Dave "Watchdog" Miner and Marion superintendent George Tomyn have courted Browning for a few months. Miner suggested in an email that Pasco "would be a natural and positive addition to our coalition and beneficial to all."...

  13. Trinity woman on education commissioner's advisory board

    K12

    With complaints mounting about testing, academic standards, textbooks and a host of other education issues, Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart announced she would form a statewide panel to advise her.

    More than 2,800 Floridians applied for 10 spots on the Keep Florida Learning Committee, which lists as its goals "reviewing further deregulation opportunities for the school system, reviewing the instructional material review processes used by school boards, identifying strategies to increase parental involvement in education, and reviewing the implementation of the Florida Standards and the Florida Standards Assessment."...

    Hendricks says people take public schools for granted.
  14. Zephyrhills High imposes restroom restrictions, gets direction to change them

    Blog

    Hoping to curtail vandalism and class skipping, Zephyrhills High School leaders announced Tuesday that students would not be allowed to leave classrooms during the first and last 10 minutes of any period. During the rest of the period, they would need to have an administrator escort them -- including to the restroom. 

    The outcry was immediate.

    "Welcome to Zephyrhills High School were we are treated like elementary kids," one student tweeted....

  15. Orlando third grader urges Florida lawmakers to pause testing consequences

    Blog

    A growing number of Florida school children are raising their voices in the state's testing debate, hoping to be heard in a discussion that so many people say is about them.

    One Orlando third grader emailed several lawmakers, urging them to consider adopting an amendment that would halt test-based third-grade retention, high school graduation and school grading decisions until the test is validated....