Former Pinellas superintendent Gus Sakkis has died

Published Nov. 28, 2011|Updated Nov. 29, 2011

From a district press release: Gus Sakkis, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools, from 1972-1981, passed away Nov. 23. Dr. Sakkis was 90 years old.

Dr. Gus Sakkis served as acting superintendent from the summer of 1972 until the School Board appointed him superintendent in 1973. He became the district's 11th superintendent. Following the trauma of two teacher walkouts, declining scores on standardized tests, student unrest, and desegregation Dr. Sakkis, top administrators and the School Board worked hard to restore public confidence in the district.

Several changes were made under Dr. Sakkis leadership that made the district more accessible to the community. He met with the press and public regularly and involved many people in making decisions, which had once been made by the superintendent alone. School advisory committees, which were established in each school, gave parents and teachers greater input into policy making. School officials released test scores, once considered top secret, on a school-by-school basis.

In 1974, the School Board took steps to make the district more personal by dividing the district into four areas, each with a superintendent. Prior to the establishment of these area superintendents, information flowed from the superintendent to the schools and back up, with many decisions requiring the authority of the superintendent. Under this new management system, principals, parents, teachers, and students worked directly with the area superintendent, who rendered top level decisions personally and quickly and who reported directly to Dr. Sakkis.

By 1975, the district's elementary students test scores showed that Pinellas students scored as well as or better than students throughout the state and nation for the first time since scores had declined in the mid and late 1960's. Three years later, school officials announced that student scores on the SAT, a student test necessary for admission to many colleges and universities, also exceeded the state and national levels.

Also in 1975, Pinellas became the first district in the state to require testing of teachers before employment. The Pinellas County Screening Test was designed to guarantee that all teachers had mastered certain minimum skills. Five years later, the state legislature mandated that all incoming teachers pass the Florida Teacher Examination before receiving certification to teach in the state.

After the decline of social behavior in the late 1960's and early 1970's, the Pinellas community asked for more discipline in the classroom. As a result, a guideline of acceptable behavior in Pinellas schools was written and approved by school officials. This guideline, the Code of Student Conduct, was first published in 1977. It outlined students' rights and responsibilities, unacceptable behavior, and possible penalties for misconduct. It also established a due process procedure for students and parents to follow for appealing disciplinary decisions.

Posted by ronmatus at 2:05:35 pm on November 28, 2011