Partly Cloudy46° FULL FORECASTPartly Cloudy46° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page

Lisa Gartner, Times Staff Writer

Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner covers Pinellas County Schools, colleges and universities. Before joining the Times in 2013, Lisa covered D.C. Public Schools for The Washington Examiner. Herself a product of Florida public schools, Lisa grew up in Palm Beach County. She attended Northwestern University after purchasing a very heavy coat.

Phone: (727) 893-8707


Twitter: @LisaGartner

  1. Pinellas proposes spending $1 million to improve behavior at five schools


    LARGO — Pinellas County school officials want to spend $1 million to teach classroom management techniques to teachers and administrators at struggling St. Petersburg elementary schools.

    The partnership with the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit based in Brooklyn, started at Campbell Park Elementary, one of five schools undergoing significant turnaround efforts, deputy superintendent Bill Corbett said at a School Board workshop this week....

  2. Charter schools vary in focus, providing another option for families


    Looking for an alternative to a traditional public school, but not willing or able to pony up private school tuition? Look no further than the district's growing network of charter schools.

    If you don't know too much about charter schools, you're not alone: In Pinellas, they've only taken off in the last few years. This year, more than 6,000 students attend charters, more than double the number who did five years ago, as new campuses open every year....

    Salina Som, a 2014 St. Petersburg Collegiate High School graduate, was one of only 1,000 nationwide to be named a Gates Millennium Scholar.
  3. Private schools boom as economy picks up


    When the bottom fell out of the economy, thousands of Florida families pulled their children out of private schools. With a second mortgage, who could afford the luxury? But with the economic rebound has come a resurgence of interest in private schools as more and more families are able to sign tuition checks.

    Private school enrollment hit 325,000 in Florida last year, the largest number of students since the 2007-08 school year. That's about 11 percent of the state's school-aged children....

  4. Using Gates money, Pinellas schools plan a shift toward 'personalized' learning


    The Pinellas school system is planning to restructure its classrooms to meet students' individual interests, beginning with a handful of secondary schools but eventually refiguring the entire district.

    Called "personalized learning," the approach will take hold next fall in new programs at Northeast, Clearwater, Seminole and Pinellas Park high schools in an effort to engage students and graduate them at greater rates....

    Lealman Intermediate, an alternative school in St. Petersburg, will reopen as Lealman Innovation Academy and accept districtwide applications for grades 6 through 12.
  5. Pinellas grad rate increases even as school grades fall


    When high school grades were released today, Pinellas wasn't able to maintain its all A's and B's status that it achieved for the first time last year.

    Yet Pinellas boasted the largest hike in its graduation rate in the Tampa Bay region: 76.2 percent of students graduated, up 4.3 percentage points over 2013.

    Regardless, no Pinellas high schools improved their grade this year as the state made it a more difficult feat....

  6. Pinellas school officials crafting an official message to Tallahassee: slow down, reduce testing


    LARGO — Pinellas school officials said Tuesday that they will formally call on the Legislature to slow down as changes in the state's school accountability system take effect this year.

    The district joins several other Florida school systems — including Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Polk and Duval — in requesting that the state limit consequences for students and schools as it transitions to new tests and standards....

  7. Eckerd president blames college sexual assaults on excess drinking, casual sex


    ST. PETERSBURG — Amid a national discussion about how colleges and universities respond to campus sexual assaults, Eckerd College president Donald Eastman III is urging students to "do your part."

    How? By drinking less and abstaining from casual sex, he said in an email to students Sunday to underscore a campus awareness campaign.

    "Virtue in the area of sexuality is its own reward, and has been held in high esteem in Western Culture for millennia because those who are virtuous are happier as well as healthier," Eastman wrote to Eckerd's 1,800 undergraduate students. "No one's culture or character or understanding is improved by casual sex, and the physical and psychological risks to both genders are profound."...

    Eckerd president Donald Eastman III sent an email to students.
  8. For FSU shooter, strong start followed by mental unraveling


    WEWAHITCHKA — There was a knock on the door of the home in this tiny town not 75 miles from Tallahassee, and at the doorstep stood the man who, in a few weeks time, would open fire on students in the library at Florida State University.

    Myron May, a 31-year-old alumnus, had returned to the state that had raised him.

    He had driven to Wewahitchka from New Mexico, where things had not been going so well. He told Abigail Taunton, a long-time family friend whose boys he had run cross-country with, that he was considering declaring bankruptcy....

    The gunman who shot three people at Florida State University's library early Thursday before being killed by police was Myron May, a lawyer who graduated from the school, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. []
  9. Science lesson at Pinellas Park Elementary saves a student's life (w/video)



    He pressed two fingers to his neck, where the blood branching through his body bumped against bone, and felt for the thump, thump, thump, proof that Tashawn Roberts was alive.

    It was October, and his fifth-grade teacher at Pinellas Park Elementary was leading a lesson on the circulatory system. She told her students to feel for their pulse, first in their wrist, then in the hollow of their necks....

    Pinellas Park Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Michelle Digman describes how she taught her class how to take their pulses. Her student,  Tashawn Roberts, 10, found a lump on his neck which was a life-threatening aneurysm. [SCOTT  KEELER   |   TIMES]

  10. Eckerd College event teaches students the randomness of hunger


    ST. PETERSBURG — "Welcome to the good life," said the butler, pulling out a chair from the table covered in red and cream linens, flowers at the center, the silverware set. "Sit down wherever you'd like."

    Henry Sadler, 20, would have liked to have done that. The smell of garlic bread was a case study in saliva. A basket of sugar varieties accompanied the ice tea selection, and he'd never have to fill his own water glass....

    Eckerd College students wait on the floor for food Wednesday with other members of the poverty line group at the Oxfam hunger banquet.
  11. Wikle says goodbye to Pinellas School Board


    Today marked Robin Wikle's last meeting with the Pinellas School Board.

    The District 4 rep was teary-eyed at the morning meeting, where Superintendent Mike Grego and other board members - as well as Wikle's brother - wished her well.

    Wikle announced in February that she'd resign in the middle of her second term; she was elected to the board in 2008, narrowly defeating Ken Peluso, the man who will now take over her seat....

  12. Pinellas School Board sells off school building in St. Pete


    North Ward Elementary school, tucked into Old Northeast off St. Pete's 4th Street corridor, was sold Tuesday at a meeting of the Pinellas School Board.

    North Ward Holdings LLC, helmed Jonathan Daou,  purchased the land for $1.7 million. In a letter to the school board, St. Petersburg Preservation said Daou indicated he will reuse, not tear down, the old elementary school....

  13. Boy with Asperger syndrome finds calling as weatherman calming (w/video)



    If there had been clouds in the sky, he would have wanted them to be cirrus clouds, because cirrus clouds look like blankets, and Ben thinks blankets are nice. But it was a bright blue sky hovering above Lake St. George Elementary that morning, sweater-weather unspooling into a bronzy-warm afternoon, the kind of day Ben Fain was excited to tell everyone about. The 10-year-old with Asperger syndrome is the weatherman for the school's morning news show. And it was his cue....

    Ben Fain, 10, left, a fifth-grader at Lake St. George Elementary School in Palm Harbor, gives the weather forecast during the school's morning news broadcast Monday. With him on the broadcast are, from left,  anchors Evan Miller, 10, and Adam Vormwald, 10. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  14. Peluso ekes out a win, Flowers dominates in Pinellas School Board races


    It was the battle of north county, and it was close.

    But retired Palm Harbor chiropractor Ken Peluso narrowly bested former Tarpon Springs Mayor Beverley Billiris on Tuesday to become the newest member of the Pinellas School Board.

    With 50.4 percent of the vote — and fewer than 700 votes more than his opponent — Peluso claimed the District 4 School Board seat representing Tarpon Springs, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Dunedin and parts of Clearwater....

    Ken Peluso talks with voters on Tuesday in Palm Harbor. He won the Pinellas County School Board District 4 seat.
  15. Others will, but Brevard won't discuss student discipline


    Here at Gradebook, we take covering education pretty seriously. We do everything we can to understand complicated issues in our schools so that we can be an authority in reporting the news to you. A few weeks ago, we set out to better get a handle on student discipline. What does it mean to be disciplined in school, and how does that differ across the 20 largest school districts in Florida?...