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Pasco school district softens proposal on required college-level courses

Superintendent Kurt Browning had said he wanted to require all students to take the classes or get an industry certification.
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning told the Florida Board of Education on May 22, 2019, of his plans to change the student progression plan so high school students would have to take a college-level course or earn an industry certification before graduation. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning told the Florida Board of Education on May 22, 2019, of his plans to change the student progression plan so high school students would have to take a college-level course or earn an industry certification before graduation. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published Jun. 13, 2019
Updated Jun. 13, 2019

Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning made a bold pledge to the outcomes-driven Florida Board of Education in May.

His district would change its student progression plan to require future high school students complete a college-credit bearing course or an industry certification before graduation. “Kids can do it,” Browning told the board.

The proposal his staff is bringing to the Pasco School Board doesn’t match Browning’s speech to the state, though.

Instead, it soft-peddles the concept by suggesting that the district will make “every attempt” to give students access to such courses — essentially codifying what the district has already been doing.

That’s just fine with School Board vice chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin, who sits on the district’s student progression plan committee.

The committee discussed the superintendent’s idea during several meetings, but had some reservations about establishing a mandate. It had recommended a trial run at a small number of schools, but that concept didn’t fly.

“We’re encouraging it. I think we should do that,” Beaudoin said of the push for more higher-level courses with after-graduation significance. “I didn’t want to say ‘required.’ We need to see how this works.”

Other board members had raised questions about imposing a more stringent rule, as well. One issue centered on what students would do if the industry certification course they wanted to take was not offered at their school, and they had no interest in the ones available.

Browning said the administration still was exploring different options to make part of his initiative come to fruition more naturally. One possibility he mentioned several times was replacing the junior level required English course an advanced Cambridge option called “General Paper.”

But as for the larger move, he said he deferred to staff members who did not favor the requirement. That didn’t mean he was giving up in the longer term, though.

“I still think it’s important that we provide those opportunities for kids to have those experiences,” Browning said. “I think we’re eventually going to get there.”

The district has not taken that step yet.

Board members are scheduled to discuss the full set of proposed revisions to the student progression plan during a workshop Tuesday.

Note: This post has been updated to include quotes from superintendent Kurt Browning.


  1. More than 100 people turned out Jan. 15, 2019, to give the Pasco County School Board their thoughts on the district's policy and procedures for transgender student rights. Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times [JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK]
  2. Hudson High student Kaitlyn Helzer introduces herself to a curious corn snake during the Nature Coast Envirothon, held Feb. 19 at Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Sumter County. Students from Pasco, Hernando, Sumter and Citrus counties tested their knowledge on aquatics, forestry, soils and wildlife while vying for a spot at state competition. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
  3. Incoming Superintendent Addison Davis (center) and School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) sign Davis' contract with the Hillsborough County School District after it was unanimously approved by the school board on February 18, 2020. [JUAN CARLOS CHAVEZ  |  Times]
  4. Teacher Dequita Parker guides youngsters to lunch from the playground Sept. 20 at the PromiseLand Early Childhood Education Center in Tampa.
  5. Associate professor of biology Caitlin Gille leads the Pasco-Hernando State College faculty union, which challenged the school's public comment rules.  (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Gille)
  6. Sen. Audrey Gibson, leader of the Florida Senate Democrats, introduces a bill in January to refocus the $900 million proposed for teacher pay into salaries for all public school employees. It's just one of many ideas still floating around Tallahassee relating to educator raises. [The Florida Channel]
  7. A small group of students were rushed inside a bus at dismissal at AMIKids on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 in Pinellas Park.  [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  8. School employees Jarvis Delon West, left, and Dontae Antonio Thomas, right, were both arrested in connection with the assault and injury of a 12-year-old boy who attended AMIkids in Pinellas Park. The state shut the school down. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
  9. First Lady Casey DeSantis talks with students during the Hope for Healing a mental and substance abuse initiative held Roland Park K-8 School in Tampa, Florida on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said state officials worked closely with DeSantis to craft the new rule. OCTAVIO JONES | Times
  10. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus. [MIKE STOCKER  |  AP]
  11. Pinellas County School Board member Carol Cook, left, celebrates her reelection to her fifth term in 2016. If ultimately approved, a term limits proposal would force Florida's school board members out after two consecutive terms.
  12. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms. [The Florida Channel]