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Choice deadline, top ‘support employee’ honored and more Pinellas education news

News and notes about K-12 schools and colleges in Pinellas County.

Pinellas honors Support Employee of the Year

Tamra Ingrassia, a food service specialist at Belcher Elementary in Clearwater, has been named the Pinellas County Schools 2019-20 Support Employee of the Year, the school district announced this week. Ingrassia started a garden club at the school and helped design garden beds that now produce fresh fruits and vegetables. According to the district, she also “incorporates student achievement by putting math problems on the students’ lunch trays, initiated several healthy food options ... to include a Breakfast Showcase, and continues to search for ways to help students make smart and healthy food and nutrition decisions.” Ingrassia will represent the district for the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year. She will receive $300 from Achieva Credit Union, the event’s sponsor.

Deadline is Friday to apply for school choice programs

The deadline to apply for magnet, fundamental and career programs offered by the Pinellas County school system is 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17. Families can apply online at The time of an application does not affect a student’s chances of getting into a program as all applications are assigned a random number. However, district officials urge families to allow plenty of time before the deadline in case they have questions about the application process. The district offers nearly 80 choice programs throughout the county. For more information, visit or contact the district’s Student Assignment office at (727) 588-6210.

Registration starts soon for prekindergarten spots

Registration begins Jan. 20 for prekindergarten programs offered by the Pinellas County school system. The district operates a free program for 4-year-olds for three hours a day through the state’s Voluntary Prekindergarten program, known as VPK, as well as a program for 3-year-olds. Families can visit to apply for a spot for the 2020-21 school year. The deadline is Jan. 31. Families also will need to log back into the system from Feb. 24 to March 6 to accept an invitation. For more information, visit Pre-K 3 is for children who will be 3 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2020. Call (727) 588-6000, ext. 2184, for more information. Voluntary Prekindergarten is for children who will be 4 years old on or before Sept. 1, 2020. Parents interested in VPK need a Certificate of Eligibility from the Early Learning Coalition. Visit or call (727) 400-4411 for more information about the certificate. For more information about VPK, call (727) 588-6513.

Elementary school lunches

Monday: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. No school.

Tuesday: Breakfast for lunch, Pizzaboli, chicken caesar salad, Jamwich Kit, deli roaster potatoes, marinara cup, romaine side salad.

Wednesday: Pasta and meat sauce or meatballs, ravioli and roll, chicken nuggets with dip cup, yogurt and fruit parfait, ham and cheese croissant, crispy fries, sliced cucumbers.

Thursday: Chicken tender basket with fries and roll, grilled cheese, Apple-A-Day Salad, chicken caesar wrap, tomato soup, mixed side salad.

Friday: Pizza variety, fish nuggets with roll, chef salad, turkey and cheese hoagie or sandwich, spinach or collard greens, fresh veggie dippers.

For more additional menus and other information on school lunches, visit the school district’s Food and Nutrition Department page.