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  1. Education

Pasco County school superintendent moves to close charter school

Lack of student achievement and reckless use of funds among the allegations.
Published Feb. 19

Pasco County schools superintendent Kurt Browning has followed through with his plan to shut down Pasco MYcroSchool, informing the charter school's leaders he intended to terminate its operating agreement for cause at a May 21 School Board meeting.

The key failures listed by Browning included a lack of progress in attaining adequate student achievement and reckless misuse of public funds. His staff had warned the school in October that it was not compliant with several state requirements, and had threatened to shutter the school a few months before that because of enrollment well below projections.

At the end of his six-page letter, Browning told MYcro School executive Joseph Allotta that he had two weeks to request a hearing on the recommendation.

Allotta asked for that hearing one day later.

He followed by sending many of the overdue finance and management reports that Browning had cited.

The hearing has not yet been scheduled. District spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said that even after receiving the paperwork, Browning had not changed his views on the school aimed at helping high school dropouts.

CONTRACT TERMS: The school district's non-instructional employees should begin seeing higher rates of pay in the checks they receive Friday.

The United School Employees of Pasco school-related personnel gave 98 percent approval to a new contract that provided 2 percent raises to all employees — and higher to workers in the lowest-paid fields.

The School Board ratified the contract on Feb. 5, in advance of the union vote, to give the payroll department enough time to process the new salaries.

Employees should see back pay from the retroactive raises in their checks after spring break.

"We want to thank the dedication of the union and district bargaining teams for reaching this agreement in a year that saw many districts utilize funding to address school safety and hardening after the terrible events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School," union president Don Peace said in a released statement.

The district and the union have not come to an agreement on teacher contracts.

SCHOOL CHOICE: Forty-one Pasco County schools are listed as over-capacity and unavailable for open enrollment in 2019-20.

That's one fewer than a year ago, but some of the schools have changed.

Stewart Middle School in Zephyrhills joins nine other middle schools on the list of those filled beyond 90 percent of their seats, the level the School Board has set for freezing enrollment for choice.

Ten high schools remain closed for choice, along with 21 elementary schools, down from 23 a year ago.

Off the list are Schrader and Woodland elementary schools. Schrader projects having 82 open seats, and Woodland, which recently added a classroom wing, expects to have 134 seats.

The numbers are under review and could change. But they were used as officials reviewed school choice applications.

Parents have until March 1 to accept or reject open enrollment offers, which recently went out. The district expects to have a second application window beginning April 24.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at jsolochek@tampabay.com. Follow @jeffsolochek.

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