A proposal to re-open two shuttered schools as technology magnets received initial support from the Pinellas County School Board at its Thursday workshop.
The school board green-lit Superintendent Mike Grego and school system administrators to continue exploring the proverbial rebirth of Gulf Beaches and Kings Highway elementaries, both closed in 2009. While the percentage of seats that will be reserved for students living near the schools remains unclear, school officials plan to bring the board more detailed information in January....
In seeking to cut down on the number of student arrests, Pinellas is taking a page from Broward County.
School officials on Thursday discussed a collaborative agreement on school discipline that Broward's school board signed with law enforcement agencies. The emphasis is ensuring that students who commit nonviolent, minor offenses don't end up with police records.
By mid-October, 121 students had been arrested at school in Pinellas, down about 30 students in the same time period from the previous year....
ST. PETERSBURG — Joy cannot see the chalkboard. Sometimes she tells her teacher, but her teacher doesn't understand. Her desk is in the back of the classroom. She has to stay in her seat. She puts her head down. She wishes they were doing multiplication tables, which she can work on at her desk, close enough to see. She wishes she was outside, playing on the swings.
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Two Pinellas elementary schools, closed by the district just five years ago, would reopen as technology magnet schools under a proposal by superintendent Mike Grego.
Undergoing decades of declining enrollment, the school district has not opened a new school in 10 years. But amid a broader push to increase specialty options for students, Grego is proposing that Gulf Beaches and Kings Highway elementaries be reborn next fall as special programs requiring that students apply to get in....
To learn more at school, students have to be at school more, and so teachers have to be at school more, before the first bell and after the last. This was the thinking of Pinellas County Schools in giving its campuses $4.5 million this year, a 60 percent funding increase, to expand before- and after-school programs for struggling students.
But then there was a problem. Not enough teachers signed up....
Pinellas County Schools and its teachers union reached an agreement Thursday to pay teachers up to $29 an hour to work with students before and after school next year, the union chief tells Gradebook.
The new sum is well above the approximate $15 teachers are making now. Instead, teachers will make their base hourly salary - minus the referendum dollars that pad the Pinellas budget - so long as that total does not exceed $29....
The Times reported in October that University Preparatory Academy, the new charter school in Midtown St. Petersburg, had failed to enact several key provisions of its charter.
Of note, University Prep did not have a local advisory board, which was supposed to help choose the school's principal. Cheri Shannon, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit behind University Prep, instead became the principal. Meanwhile, dozens of children were withdrawing from the school and returning to struggling Pinellas neighborhood schools....
No teacher in Pinellas County public schools received a poor rating last year. Not one. None were deemed "unsatisfactory" on their evaluations. There were none in Pasco, and there were none in Hernando. You could find 138 in Hillsborough, about 1 percent of its teachers.
Across the state, out of 163,986 evaluated teachers, 306 received a poor rating, according to preliminary results released Tuesday by the Florida Department of Education....
The button was round, red and small, but most important, it was never alone. Before the first question was asked at the academic competition, before the kids handed their cellphones to their mothers and the rules were read, Aadith Moorthy's finger was on the buzzer. It stayed there even during breaks, or hovered just above it, shaking more than slightly. When a question was asked and he pressed the button, it made its loud, nasal sound, and the judge looked toward Moorthy's table and said his school's name, "Palm Harbor," and Moorthy spoke: "Eight-point-eight-two times ten to the second."...
PALM HARBOR — The health inspector stared at the class full of fifth-graders and told them, in plain terms, that they were disgusting. That morning they had surely petted their dogs, or perhaps sneezed into their hands. They were now covered in germs.
"Does everyone have germs on them?" asked Kenny Christanto-Nagai.
"Oh, yes," said the state inspector, a man in a baseball cap named Mark Fragola....
It used to be that they didn't have to work so hard. Pinellas County would open a school, and students would enroll.
Charter schools, private schools — they're the ones who had to put their work in. Shiny brochures, weekly information fairs, promises of longer school days, gender-segregated classrooms and Montessori philosophies.
But the game is changing. Increased competition for students, declining enrollment in the middle grades, and a need to offer more attractive options to families is leading Pinellas County Schools to open new magnet programs at four middle schools next fall....
In this age of plastic, some Pinellas students want to know - why can't they pay for their school lunches with debit cards?
At a recent workshop, the Pinellas School Board met with student leaders from the county's high schools. Emily Tharp, a senior at Seminole, asked why she had to pay cash to get her mid-day meal.
Pinellas students have accounts that their parents can fill with funds, but Tharp said sometimes parents forget and don't have cash on hand. Allowing students to use their debit cards to pay for food would put the control in students' hands....
Seeking to save money, Pinellas is considering scaling back five school police officers' schedules by June 2014. Instead of working 12 months, these officers would work 10, aligning with the school year.
Pinellas is also looking to eliminate the school police department secretary and a half-time school police officer. Both positions are currently vacant.
Additionally, another position would take over the duties of the school police employee charged with creating access tags for new employees, eliminating that position as well....
Pinellas County Schools is considering buying property near two of its elementary schools, although school board members are split on whether one of the add-ons will be worth it.
School system staff and board members agreed to seek an appraisal for the vacant lot next to 74th Street Elementary, citing the parking problems at the school. 74th Street only has 94 parking spots for a staff of 112, and the parent pick-up line has no choice but to weave through the staff parking lot....
When Sophia Wisniewska, the new chancellor at USF St. Petersburg, took office in July, she was tasked with creating a strategic five-year plan.
Pinellas's only public university, USF St. Pete has a lot on its plate. Wisniewska said during a July interview that the university first figures out what kind of place it wants to be - how many students should it enroll, how residential should it be, and how many programs should it offer?...