1. Education

School Search: a starting point in your quest for the right school

Plato Academy student Ilan Ruiz, 11, reads a brochure during Largo Middle School’s Discovery Night, where school officials highlighted the International Studies Program, one of 70 special programs offered by county schools. 
Published Jan. 5, 2016

Welcome to School Search, our annual special section dedicated to helping Pinellas County families find the right schools for their children.

It's built around the Jan. 6 start of the application period for magnet, fundamental and high school career programs. But it also includes information on the upcoming kindergarten registration process for traditional schools — as well as listings for private and charter schools. The latter two groups are recruiting students with open houses and application deadlines of their own in the next few weeks and months.

You'll also find information on two state programs that cover private school tuition and other education costs for low-income and special-needs students. In addition, we've put together some numbers and advice designed to help families navigate the district's lottery, which is necessitated by the fact that more than 11,000 students will be vying for about 7,500 spots.

The Pinellas County School District has upped its game over the last two years in the realm of school choice with the addition of 11 programs, many of them focused on technology and international studies. As you read through the descriptions of various programs, you'll notice that many of them focus on "personalized learning," a concept Pinellas is embracing on a large scale. It involves more hands-on learning and in-class projects, and more attention on meeting students where their interests lie.

With School Search, we aim to serve as a starting point for families as the 2016-17 academic year approaches.

If you missed the district's discovery nights in the fall, a handful still remain. And many schools are still offering tours and shadowing opportunities. Talking with other parents is strongly recommended, as is checking the available data.

The Florida Department of Education website,, is a good place to begin. Start your research under the tab labeled "accountability."

Finally, you should consult the District Application Programs Guide available at — especially if you have questions about programs that accept student applications only from certain parts of the county. The guide has maps and other helpful information.

We wish you well as you continue your search. And, as always, let us know if we can help.

Contact Thomas C. Tobin at or (727) 893-8923. Follow @ThomasCTobin.


  1. Colleen Beaudoin is selected Pasco County School Board chairwoman for 2020, and Allen Altman is named vice chairman. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Altman chosen as vice chairman.
  2. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  3. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.
  4. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  6. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  7. The Florida Department of Education has approved another alternate assessment for third graders to demonstrate they read at or above grade level.
    The state also reminds schools to let those who struggle that scholarships for help are available.
  8. Trump supporters yell and show the middle finger at hecklers during Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech in the University Auditorium at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019. Guilfoyle spoke about her childhood as a first-generation American, her experiences as a lawyer and her support for the Trump family.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    Student senator Ben Lima explains why he’s pursuing the charges against Michael Murphy.
  9. A fledgling movement of parents and community members in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are speaking out about sex education in public schools. They say the curriculums are not explicit enough. And they worry that kids don’t have enough information — or that they get it too late — to protect themselves against the risks of sexual intimacy. [Shutterstock] SHUTTERSTOCK
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.