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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. Students at five Pasco schools eligible for little-used Opportunity Scholarship transfers


    After a year hiatus, Florida's program allowing students at persistently low performing public schools to choose higher achieving nearby schools with space is again available.

    This year, children at five Pasco County schools that earned an F or three consecutive D grades from the state are eligible for the Opportunity Scholarships. The district has offered families the option of two C-rated campuses near each school....

  2. Contract settlement before return to work unlikely for Pasco County school employees


    Aiming to complete talks before schools reopen Aug. 8, Pasco County school district and employee union representatives began contract negotiations in April.

    Their target appears to be fading, though, as work resumes in two weeks, and the sides have yet to bring a pay and benefits proposal to the table. District officials have said they intend to offer 3 percent raises....

  3. Florida education news: Principal problems, gifted education, school choice and more


    TROUBLES: An investigation details the leadership problems that led to the downfall of a former Hillsborough elementary school principal.

    GIFTED EDUCATION: Duval school district leaders debate the need for a middle school gifted program, the Florida Times-Union reports....

  4. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 17, 2016


    With classes set to resume in less than a month, the Florida Board of Education reviewed dozens of turnaround plans for the state's lowest performing schools during a meeting this past week. School districts dealt with dress code concerns, surprise charter school closures, and President Obama's recent guidance on transgender students. Some parents meanwhile took steps to challenge the state's third-grade reading retention law. That's just the beginning. Get the latest Florida education news daily on the Gradebook. Send comments to

  5. Be up front about Land O'Lakes High plans, parents urge Pasco school district


    Plans to upend Land O'Lakes High School for needed remodeling remain a year away, but that hasn't stopped some parents from agitating for more details now.

    They've begun collecting signatures on an online petition, in which they demand to know more about the administration's preparations and discussions to relocate the school's 1,800 students during demolition and construction....

  6. Last chance to comment on Florida's accountability plan


    Still want to comment on Florida's plans to implement the latest iteration of federal education accountability laws?

    Today is your last chance.

    The state will accept input on its website through the end of business, before taking the information to staff for analysis and recommendations to the State Board of Education....

  7. Florida education news: Charter schools, gender issues, school hours and more


    CHARTER SCHOOLS: New principal Portia Slaughter moves to quickly transform shuttered University Prep into Pinellas district-run Midtown Academy.

    GENDER ISSUES: A Pinellas Park private school's principal generates upset and anger with his anti-gay rant on a stranger's Facebook post....

  8. On Pasco superintendent Kurt Browning's reelection, filing fees and public perceptions


    Schools superintendent Kurt Browning is among Pasco County's most popular politicians. Browning rarely has faced a foe in his election bids, and when he has, he's swamped his opposition.

    Witness his 2012 race, when he won all precincts in his bid to oust two-term incumbent superintendent Heather Fiorentino....

  9. Ridgewood High moves quickly to promote new dress code plan


    Just more than a day after winning School Board tentative approval, Ridgewood High School leaders have begun circulating their revised proposal for a modified student dress code.

    Principal Angie Murphy told the board on Tuesday she wanted to move quickly, having received several calls from parents and students who wanted to know what they need for the new academic year....

  10. Ridgewood High skirts dress code controversy; Pasco School Board backs new apparel standards at two schools


    Parents whose children attend Hudson Elementary and Ridgewood High schools in the fall will want to check the schools' websites before buying new clothes for the new academic year.

    The two schools won preliminary approval this week to implement tougher dress codes than ever before.

    Hudson would have the Pasco school district's first mandated student uniforms of red or blue polo shirts, with khaki or blue pants, skirts or shorts. It would include an opt-out provision....

    “We know at Ridgewood we need to do something different when it comes to engagement and increasing academic focus.”
Angie Murphy, Ridgewood principal
  11. Florida education news: Summer enrichment, school choice, Common Core and more


    ENRICHMENT: Jesuit High and Berkeley Prep offer programs to help area students avoid summer learning loss.

    TESTING: All candidates for an open Manatee School Board seat criticize high-stakes testing, the Herald-Tribune reports....

  12. Browning seeks changes to state testing system


    Recently re-elected without opposition, Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning says he plans to push lawmakers to alter Florida's testing system.

    No, he isn't proposing to do away with it, as some critics would have. But he does want to temper the model.

    "I will pursue a change with the Legislature to give districts flexibility when it comes to the manner in which the FSA is administered," Browning said of the Florida Standards Assessments. "Those districts that want to have pencil-paper need to have the flexibility to do so. I would be one of those districts."...

  13. State Board of Education okays turnaround efforts for Pasco, Hillsborough schools


    Plans to turn around some of the most academically troubled schools in Hillsborough and Pasco counties met close scrutiny, but little criticism, from the Florida Board of Education as it reviewed the proposals Wednesday afternoon.

    Board members asked pointed questions, focusing intently on leadership and teaching changes at the schools, before ultimately approving the plans for Pasco's Hudson Elementary and Hillsborough's Lockhart, Potter, Gibsonton and Mort elementary schools, and Van Buren and Memorial middle schools....

  14. Eleven Pasco elementary schools get longer days for fourth and fifth graders


    Eleven Pasco County schools that landed on the state's Lowest 300 list for reading performance in 2015-16 will provide an added hour of daily reading instruction for fourth and fifth graders beginning this fall.

    The School Board approved the longer hours on Tuesday, and discussions are continuing to make sure younger siblings of the children who attend will have a program to attend during that hour. ...

  15. Florida Board of Education approves improvement plans for struggling Pinellas schools


    Three of Pinellas County's most struggling schools -- Campbell Park, Fairmount Park and Melrose elementary schools -- as well as two others with low performance on state standards -- High Point Elementary and Azalea Middle -- won state approval Wednesday for their latest improvement plans....