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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. Florida education news: Taxes, elected superintendents, test questions and more


    TAXES: Hernando's School Board chairman says the board has a moral imperative to try again to secure an added local sales tax revenue for school improvements. • The Marion School Board puts together a citizen oversight committee to monitor spending of its new local property tax for education, the Ocala Star-Banner reports....

  2. Florida education news: School choice, student discipline, superintendent ousters and more


    SCHOOL CHOICE: Florida school districts offer more education options for families to compete with outside alternatives.

    STUDENT VOICES: A Hillsborough committee focusing on minority student discipline finally listens to students about their views....

  3. School choice controversy ebbs as more families use it


    When Maddie Miniati turned 5, her parents wanted her to start kindergarten at Carrollwood Elementary School.

    Her dad, Mike, attended Carrollwood once upon a time. Family friends were sending their kids there. Her grandparents lived in walking distance.

    Thing was, the Miniatis didn't live in the Carrollwood attendance zone: Their address landed Maddie at nearby Lake Magdalene Elementary School....

    Middleton High School senior George Seits, pictured on Friday, attends the Tampa school partly for its engineering program.
  4. Appellate court rejects Florida Education Association challenge of teacher evaluation law


    Florida's First District Court of Appeal has rejected the Florida Education Association's lawsuit claiming SB 736 -- the 2011 law changing teachers' contracts, pay and evaluations -- unconstitutionally violated their collective bargaining rights

    "Appellants have not established that the legislature delegated core legislative authority to the Board of Education and intended to violate the separation of powers requirement of Article II, section 3 of the Florida Constitution," the court majority wrote in a decision issued Friday....

  5. Pasco County schools get more substitute teachers as qualifications drop


    Facing difficulties filling all its substitute teacher needs, the Pasco County school district has spent months reviewing ways to attract and retain more subs.

    Its effort has begun working. At the start of the year, the district had 675 instructional and noninstructional substitutes on file. Now, it has 1,003, of which 872 are instructional....

  6. Fired or not, MaryEllen Elia remains in the hunt for national Superintendent of the Year


    MaryEllen Elia is on her way out as Hillsborough schools superintendent. She still could wind up being National Superintendent of the Year, regardless.

    AASA: The School Superintendents Association issued a statement expressing dismay that the School Board had dismissed Elia without cause, and saying she deserves recognition as a finalist, perhaps more. Executive director Dan Domenech said:...

  7. Florida education news: Bright Futures, corporal punishment, textbooks and more


    BRIGHT FUTURES: Florida Gov. Rick Scott proposes an expansion of the Bright Futures scholarship to help students pay for summer school courses.

    GROWTH: Pasco school officials discuss the need to increase school impact fees....

  8. Community members urge Pasco school district to reverse course on Moore-Mickens center


    For the second time in two years, Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning has announced plans to end classes at the county's first permanent school for African-American students, the Moore-Mickens Education Center. Browning gave in to community pressure and dropped the idea in 2013....

  9. Clear expectations required for next Hillsborough superintendent, expert says


    The Hillsborough County School Board's firing of long-time superintendent MaryEllen Elia raised the key question, What experienced leader would walk into the role knowing the divided nature of an apparently politically driven board?...

  10. Florida education news: Superintendent searches, vouchers, science fairs and more


    WHAT'S NEXT? Observers discuss the Hillsborough school district's next steps in the aftermath of superintendent MaryEllen Elia's dismissal. • The Palm Beach School Board fast-tracks its superintendent search, noting that having Hillsborough on the hunt can't help, the Sun-Sentinel reports. • Marion superintendent George Tomyn announces his reelection plans, the Ocala Star-Banner reports....

  11. Whether or not you liked Hillsborough schools chief MaryEllen Elia, she's gone — so what's next?


    TAMPA — As the shock of schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia's firing is felt throughout Hillsborough County and beyond, people are wondering: What's next?

    No plan of succession was discussed at Tuesday's School Board meeting. And word that Elia's contract was terminated without cause by a 4-3 vote, despite her accomplishments and accolades, has some educators wondering who will want to take her place....

    Hillsborough County School Board meeting on 10/08/2013 Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Eakins
  12. Board approval finalizes contract with Pasco school employees


    LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County school employees should expect to see more pay in their February checks, with the final approval of their 2014-15 contract.

    School Board members unanimously supported the agreement on Tuesday, just days after an overwhelming ratification vote by United School Employees of Pasco members.

    Participation in the union vote reached 68 percent of employees — the highest level in memory, USEP president Kenny Blankenship said — with 89 percent of teachers and 90 percent of school-related personnel accepting the deal....

  13. Pasco school district imposes hiring freeze


    Florida has more students attending the public schools than expected this year. That means a slight reduction in per-student funding, to fit within the 2014-15 budget.

    Pasco County schools have been told to expect $2 million less because of the proration.  As a result, assistant superintendent for administration Kevin Shibley has imposed a rolling hiring freeze on newly vacant positions....

  14. Florida education news: Superintendent ouster, cockroaches, new schools and more


    OUSTED: MaryEllen Elia, superintendent of the nation's eighth-largest school system, is dumped by the Hillsborough School Board with a $1.1 million buyout. It was a petty, reckless, politically motivated move, the Times editorializes....

  15. Pasco School Board approves new teacher, employee contract


    Without comment, the Pasco County School Board unanimously approved a 2014-15 contract for teachers and school-related employees on Tuesday.

    The deal provides average raises of 3 percent. It also ends the district's local early retirement plan and bans tobacco use at all district facilities. The result came after often contentious bargaining sessions.

    The United School Employees of Pasco ratified the contract a week ago. Pay raises are expected in February checks....