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Pinellas will discuss hiring outside agency to turn around three failing schools

DIRK SHADD   |   Times  
Fairmount Park Elementary in St. Petersburg is one of three schools in the Pinellas County school district that may be run by Learning Sciences International if the school grades do not improve to a C. The school district has drafted a contract to spend $144,000 per school for the first year of interventions.
DIRK SHADD | Times Fairmount Park Elementary in St. Petersburg is one of three schools in the Pinellas County school district that may be run by Learning Sciences International if the school grades do not improve to a C. The school district has drafted a contract to spend $144,000 per school for the first year of interventions.
Published Feb. 20, 2018

The Pinellas County school district had three options: it could've shut down its three lowest performing schools and reassign students, convert them into charter schools or contract with an external operator to turn them around.

In November, the district picked option No. 3. And in case Fairmount Park Elementary, Lakewood Elementary and Azalea Middle get their third D or F school grade this summer, the district must draft a contract with Learning Sciences International. It's all part of the new accountability rules set forth by House Bill 7069, which was signed into law last year.

Pinellas County School Board members plan to discuss the agreement at a board workshop beginning at 9 a.m. today. The contract, which will go before the board for a vote at a meeting next week, will cost the district $144,000 per school for the 2018-19 school year, and anywhere from $198,000 to $624,000 until 2023, paid for with state and federal funds.

The 21-page contract sets the ground rules: LSI will have control over all academic factors including the selection, placement, coaching and evaluation of school leadership and teachers, student assessments and development of curriculum and instructional materials.

The district will handle transportation, food service, facility maintenance and security, data collection and entry, services to students with disabilities, English as a Second Language, tutoring and before- and after-care programs, send principals to an LSI conference in Orlando – and foot the bill for all of it.

Teachers will still be paid by the district and covered under a collective bargaining agreement with Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, however LSI will have priority in "selecting and placing teachers and administrators for the school."

The contract also stipulates that one of the schools will be used as a showcase school for LSI's brand and the district must collaborate with LSI for promotional activities, including posting banners, printing T-shirts and branding academic supplies.

If approved by the Pinellas board, the contract will go before the State Board of Education for approval in October.

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