1. Archive

More Pinellas schools could face state intervention

Published Apr. 29, 2013

Five chronically struggling schools in Pinellas County are facing state intervention in the coming school year, a process that includes forcing the principal and faculty members to reapply for their jobs. We wrote about that issue Saturday. But there are 10 other schools in Pinellas on the state's watch list and, if they don't improve soon, they'll be subject to the same state policy.

All of the schools earned D grades from the state and all dropped from a C grade the year before. They include: Bear Creek Elementary, Belleair Elementary, Campbell Park Elementary, Dunedin Elementary, High Point Elementary, Largo Middle, Pinellas Park Elementary, Ponce De Leon Elementary, Tyrone Middle, and Woodlawn Elementary.

The School Board is scheduled to discuss the five schools at its work session Tuesday. But it will be interesting to see if any of the discussion involves a look at what's coming for the other 10 if things don't start looking up.

If you recall, the process for troubled schools used to be a little different. Under the state's previous process for differentiatied accountability, schools could bounce on and off the troubled list with relative ease. The state had a lot more - and confusing - categories for schools. (Prevent I, Correct I, Intervene, among others.) That process was streamlined somewhat a few years ago when Florida got its federal waiver from No Child Left Behind.

Now, if these 10 schools earn a second D the district will be required to submit turnaround plans to the state. Those plans will go into effect if the schools then earn that third D.

Pinellas school superintendent Mike Grego, who was then the state's interim chancellor, was involved in writing the waiver. He said the new process is an improvement over the old one in that a school can't remain a F for years without change. He also added a new turnaround option for school districts to select from, the hybrid model. (They also can opt to do a district-managed turnaround, which is what requires the teachers to reapply for their jobs, close the school, convert to a charter or hire an outside company to manage it.)

The Gradebook asked Grego Friday why he didn't opt for the hybrid model, which allows districts to create their own plan subject to state approval. He said the district turnaround is "the best option now." But next year, if the five schools don't improve, then district officials likely will adopt a hybrid model, he said.