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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. What's on tap for Florida education in the coming special session?


    Florida lawmakers head back to Tallahassee on Monday to finish what they couldn't resolve during their two month regular session, namely a budget for the looming fiscal year.

    Of course, the overall education spending plan remains up for debate. The Florida Board of Education has made its pitch for Gov. Rick Scott's "historic" per-student funding proposal, while superintendents are calling for full funding of enrollment growth....

  2. Florida education news: Student goals, social media, summer reading and more


    ASPIRATIONS: Two Pasco fourth graders beat a decade-old school reading record and set their sights on the previous holder's next big accomplishment — valedictorian.

    COSTLY ERRORS: A recent audit of Hernando school finances turns up mistakes that could cost the district nearly $4 million....

  3. It's a record-setting year for readers at Sand Pine Elementary


    WESLEY CHAPEL — All school year, Samantha Allen and Anna Buckler kept close tabs on what the other was reading.

    Not just the titles, either. The Pasco County fourth-graders monitored numbers of pages, and even the location of their bookmarks within the inches-thick tomes.

    They were in hot pursuit of a record that has stood for nearly a decade at Sand Pine Elementary School, and neither wanted the other to gain an edge. ...

    Wiregrass High valedictorian Casey Chitty crowns Sand Pine Elementary student Samantha Allen after having crowned Anna Buckler on Thursday in honor of the girls breaking the Accelerated Reader program record that Chitty set 10 years ago.
  4. Why didn't more firms bid to evaluate Florida's testing validity?


    The news that just one firm submitted a proposal to review the Florida Standards Assessments raised eyebrows among the activists seeking to reform the state testing system.

    They questioned whether companies are trying to avoid the state's messy political debate. They challenged whether the validity study can be relied upon....

  5. Pasco schools change course on literacy aid


    LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County middle and high school students who struggle with Florida's language arts exams could find themselves freed of the much hated intensive reading course next fall.

    The changes could affect thousands of children. Districtwide, nearly 13,000 students are enrolled in intensive reading programs.

    District officials cheered lawmakers' recent move to grant educators more flexibility in how to support low-performing students, and quickly crafted plans to take full advantage. They no longer have to funnel children into a second hour of reading, which had been mandatory, instead gaining the ability to more closely deal with students' individual needs....

    Pasco schools are changing course on literacy aid.
  6. Florida education news: Sales tax, college prep, start times and more


    CAPITAL NEEDS: The Hernando school district kicks off its campaign for a local sales tax.

    ON THE RUN: Candidates emerge for Hillsborough School Board....

  7. 29 Bay-area students receive National Merit Scholarships


    The National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced its first round of college-sponsored scholarships to graduating seniors on Wednesday. About 2,200 students received the awards nationwide.

    Among them were 29 students from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. They are:

    Eric Briggs, East Lake HS
    Jacquelyn Nagy, Gulf HS
    Lisa Goldworthy, Sunlake HS
    Emily Suvannasankha, Land O'Lakes HS
    Wendy Smith, Steinbrenner HS
    Katherine Jones, Hillsborough HS
    Taylor Cavaliere, East Lake HS
    Ariel Perry-Mills, Palm Harbor University HS
    Daniel Rosato, East Lake HS
    Sara Scharf, Palm Harbor University HS
    Jeremy Stephen, East Lake HS
    Michael Pothoven, home school, Plant City
    David Beck, home school, Riverview
    Ryan Schipfer, Robinson HS
    Trenton Sweigart, St. Petersburg HS
    Katherina Fucci, Shorecrest Preparatory School
    Rachel Panico, Lakewood HS Center for Advanced Technologies
    Rahul Borra, Carrollwood Day School
    Alexander Harris, Middleton HS
    Eric Luo, King HS
    Christina Maldonado, Hillsborough HS
    Jenna McKinney, Plant HS
    Kathy Nguyen, Robinson HS
    John Qin, King HS
    Daniel Suen, King HS
    Lily Tang, Wharton HS
    Joseph Gallagher, Bloomingdale HS
    Christopher Springfield, Durant HS
    Olivia Sunna, Wiregrass Ranch HS...

  8. Florida gets one bid to review its testing validity


    The panel asked to choose a firm to review the validity of Florida's new testing system doesn't appear to have much work to do when it meets Friday.

    Only one group has submitted a bid to do the work....

  9. Some Pasco schools shuffle principals


    Principal changes are afoot for some Pasco County schools as the district prepares for its administrative reappointments.

    Katie Lail, who has led Pasco Elementary in Dade City since 2011, will retire after 27 years with the district. Her staff learned Wednesday morning that Nena Green, the school's well-liked assistant principal, has been recommended to take over the top job.

    Green, who joined the district from out-of-state in 2012, will come to the School Board for approval on June 16....

  10. Florida education news: MaryEllen Elia, UF online, high school for sale and more


    NEXT STOP, NEW YORK: Ousted Hillsborough superintendent MaryEllen Elia lands on her feet as New York State's next education commissioner. More from Newsday, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, Buffalo News....

  11. Pasco teacher gets reprimand over testing


    A Pasco County math teacher who faced an investigation over concerns that she encouraged students to opt out of a state end-of-course exam has received a formal reprimand for her action.

    Meredith Jewell, a district teacher since 2005, has told the district she plans to submit a rebuttal to some of the specific accusations against her. Mitchell High School principal Jim Michaels wrote in his reprimand that Jewell deviated from set procedures for administering tests, in that she discussed the possibility of opting out of the exams with students and made them believe she supported that decision....

  12. MaryEllen Elia snares top New York education post


    UPDATE: The New York Board of Regents unanimously voted to install MaryEllen Elia as their next state education chancellor just before 4 p.m. She is to begin on July 6.

    ORIGINAL POST: MaryEllen Elia, recently let go as Hillsborough County schools superintendent, wasn't out of the business for long....

  13. Pasco school district taxable value rises


    A second consecutive $1 billion increase in local property values will bolster the Pasco County school district's bottom line for the coming fiscal year.

    Property appraiser Mike Wells informed district officials that their estimated taxable value for fiscal 2016 is $23.46 billion, up from $22.41 billion a year ago. The higher values should contribute to a stronger budget picture for the district as leaders seek to expand programs and improve salaries....

  14. Florida education news: Testing, Spanish lessons, magnet schools and more


    TESTING: The Palm Beach School Board will ask Gov. Rick Scott to halt the negative consequences associated with state testing, the Palm Beach Post reports.

    HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS: Proposals to overhaul high school sports oversight won't return in Florida's special legislative session, the Northwest Florida Daily News reports....

  15. Florida education news: High-poverty schools, online learning, sand skinks and more


    TOUGHER TIMES: Hillsborough and Pinellas teachers find it more difficult to teach at high-poverty schools.

    ONLINE LEARNING: Florida Virtual School offers students desired flexibility, the Panama City News Herald reports....