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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: Technology, testing, vetoes and more

    Blog

    HIGH TECH: Santa Rosa schools win a grant to help them improve classroom technology, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports.

    TESTING: The National Education Association considers several resolutions on testing as it conducts its annual meeting in Orlando, Education Week reports....

  2. Florida education news: Performance pay, summer activities, growth and more

    Blog

    PERFORMANCE PAY: SAT and ACT makers say they haven't considered whether their tests could be used to predict who will be good teachers as Florida proposes in its Best and Brightest program, the Miami Herald reports.

    STAY SAFE: The Duval school system opens school gyms over the summer to give kids more things to to do, the Florida Times-Union reports....

  3. Pasco schools budget targets 3 percent raises

    Blog

    The end result of Florida's legislative budget debates has not dimmed Pasco school superintendent Kurt Browning's plan to offer 3 percent raises to all district employees for the coming year.

    "It is my priority to have a 3 percent pay increase," Browning said, adding that if cuts must be made, they will come from other parts of the budget....

  4. Florida education news: Evaluations, summer school, high-stakes testing and more

    Blog

    TEACHER EVALUATIONS: The Pasco teachers union says it would prefer to have student test scores count as half a teacher's evaluation rather than a third.

    LEARNING LOSS: Pasco Fox Hollow Elementary opens its media center on Tuesdays for students to get added reading time and instruction. • Hillsborough Valrico Elementary offers children a Summer Literacy Club....

  5. Pasco teachers union surprises with unexpected stand on evaluations

    K12

    LAND O'LAKES — Val Smith admitted she was surprised to hear herself say the words.

    But after much consideration, she said, the Pasco County teachers union wants student test scores to continue counting for 50 percent of a teacher's annual job evaluation.

    The Legislature this year gave school districts the option to lower it to 33 1/3 percent, a hard-won change that followed intense lobbying and bitter complaints by teachers across the state....

  6. Pasco teacher contract talks bring surprise over evaluations

    Blog

    In an unexpected twist Thursday, the United School Employees of Pasco rejected a district offer to reduce the amount that student test scores count on teacher evaluations.

    Taking advantage of new state law, the district had offered to cut the weight of the data from 50 percent to 35 percent, giving added heft to classroom observations. Union representatives said the idea seemed "fantastic" on its face, but after crunching numbers it appeared less so....

  7. Former Pinellas teacher claims he was fired for union activity

    Blog

    A former Pinellas County teacher, who now works at a local charter school, has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against his former bosses.

    Kirby Hart, a science and math teacher at Academie da Vinci, claims he was threatened with termination because of his activity with the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.

    In documents filed with the Public Employees Relations Commission, Hart explains that he joined the union after his school at the time, Pinellas Gulf Coast Academy, was taken over by the school district. He volunteered to serve as the building representative, and began asking pointed questions of the principal after teachers complained they were working more hours than the contract required....

  8. Summer program at Fox Hollow Elementary aims to prevent backsliding

    K12

    PORT RICHEY — Dylan Harris grabbed a title from his favorite Henry and Mudge series and settled in beside learning design coach Chrissie Roppolo in the media center at Fox Hollow Elementary School.

    "What do you think this book is going to be about?" Roppolo asked Dylan, who begins second grade in the fall.

    He looked over the title, Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night, and decided it would be about "lots of stars and a big, huge moon." Then he began reading....

  9. Pasco Middle School gets new principal

    Blog

    Barring any unforeseen additional changes, the Pasco school district has filled its last remaining principal vacancy with another familiar face.

    Jeffrey Wolff, assistant principal at the Dade City school since 2010, will move into the top job upon School Board approval. Wolff, who was an assistant principal at Wesley Chapel High before moving to Pasco Middle, has worked for the school district since 1996....

  10. Florida education news: Testing, finances, overdue repairs and more

    Blog

    PRIORITIES: On his first official day, Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins talks about his goals for the school district.

    COMMUNICATION: Pasco Pine View Middle leaders scale back their aggressive scheduling and curriculum plans after listening to parent concerns....

  11. Concerns of parents over schedule, curriculum changes at Pine View Middle draw officials' attention

    K12

    LAND O'LAKES — Families at Pine View Middle School are tempering their criticism of the school's plans to revamp its schedule and curriculum, as the administration slows its efforts.

    The discussion is far from over, though, as parents continue to keep an eye on Pine View's move toward implementation of the International Baccalaureate middle years program.

    Their concerns center on two key points....

  12. Former Charlotte School Board member takes helm at FSBA

    Blog

    Andrea Messina, the Florida School Boards Association's director of professional development since 2012, has taken over the organization's top spot as executive director. Her first day on the job was Wednesday.

    Messina, a former three-term Charlotte School Board member, replaced longtime FSBA leader Wayne Blanton, who retired in the spring after four decades advocating for school boards. The FSBA board selected her during a recent meeting in Tampa....

  13. 10 Florida members of Congress call on Gov. Scott to dump this year's testing results

    Blog

    As this spring's Florida Standards Assessment results continue to trickle out, a group of Florida's congressional delegation on Wednesday asked Gov. Rick Scott to stop the process.

    Contending the outcomes are tainted because of myriad computer problems during the testing period, the 10 members -- nine Democrats and one Republican -- have suggested that the scores cannot be dependable.

    "Even if the statutorily mandated independent evaluation due in September deems test questions valid, serious questions remain about whether the disruptive testing conditions rendered this test an unreliable tool for assessing student learning," the group wrote. "Children across the state suffered through blank screens, crashed servers, and repeated log outs. We cannot reasonably expect our children to perform well under these circumstances."...

  14. All quiet in the hunt for an open Pasco School Board seat

    Blog

    When Joanne Hurley first ran for Pasco School Board in 2008, she spent more than a year before ballot qualifying in the community getting to know people and, more importantly, making sure voters got to know her.

    Her effort worked so well that she overcame two other civic leaders in the primary by such a large margin that she avoided a general election battle....

  15. Florida education news: Per-student funding, wildflowers, adult education and more

    Blog

    FUNDING: Lake school officials are happy the district will get $12.5 million in added funding, but still note its per-student funding lags the state, the Daily Commercial reports.

    TAXES: The St. Johns School Board unanimously agrees to seek a local sales tax for school capital projects, the Florida Times-Union reports....