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Area schools win approval for improvement plans

The Board of Education sets some expectations for each as they move forward.
Students from Lakewood Elementary School dismiss for the day in St. Petersburg, Monday, February 10, 2020.  [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
Students from Lakewood Elementary School dismiss for the day in St. Petersburg, Monday, February 10, 2020. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Feb. 12

Without debate, the Florida Board of Education has approved turnaround proposals for four perennially struggling Tampa Bay-area schools.

Lakewood Elementary in St. Petersburg, Pinellas County’s only F-rated school, will get an additional year to show improvements while partnering with a private school management company. District officials have said the school — which has at times seen some of the worst test results in the state — has begun making progress toward a C grade.

If the extension had not been approved, the district had proposed turning the school over to a charter operator. That would have been a first for the county.

The State Board granted the extra year, with the condition that if Lakewood does not get a C or better in this year’s state grading, it must replace its operator and principal next year, while retaining all its teachers rated effective and highly effective.

Related: State will decide fate of Pinellas’ long-struggling Lakewood Elementary

The board set similar terms for Oak Park and Foster elementary schools in Tampa.

Those two schools had been under the operation of Phelan Leadership Academies for the past year and a half. District leaders said that, after making some extensive changes in leadership, teaching and curriculum, the schools had made significant positive strides.

They asked for the added year to push the schools to a C grade.

A related proposal for Thonotosassa Elementary was not acted on.

Related: Hillsborough’s Foster, Oak Park and Thonotasassa schools are under state scrutiny

The board also agreed to allow the Pasco County school district to close Hudson Elementary School, which has had only one year in the past nine above a D grade.

The approval clears the way for the district to rezone Hudson students to Northwest and Gulf Highlands elementary schools as part of a larger improvement plan for west Pasco.

The State Board required that the district reassign the children to schools graded C or higher. It also instructed the district to monitor the students’ academic performance for the next three years.

Related: Closing Hudson Elementary School still requires state approval


  1. Chicken and vegetable dumplings with soy sauce were offered to students to test during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste-testing, Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at Pinellas Technical College. Twenty-eight new food items were tested and rated.  Some will be added to next year's school menus.
  2. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  3. Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes
  4. The Pinellas County school system is offering driver education camps to hundreds of students like this one over the summer. The program will be held over two sessions at nine high school campuses across the county.
  5. 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.
  6. Incoming Hillsborough School Superintendent Addison Davis (center), School Board Chair Melissa Snively (right) and the other board members pose as Davis signs his contract with the district on Tuesday night. The board unanimously approved the contract beforehand.
  7. Jarvis Delon West was arrested on child neglect charges after he didn't report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police.
  8. 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)
  9. Prekindergarten students at James B. Sanderlin IB World School in St. Petersburg, show the peace sign during an assembly in 2012. New state data show children in prekindergarten are better prepared for kindergarten than those who don't attend.
  10. Leon County fifth-grader Ingrid Hanley asks the Senate Education Committee not to adopt legislation that would get tougher on D-rated schools, during a Feb. 17, 2020, session.
  11. Nadia King, 6, is smiles for a photo. The special-needs student was taken from school Feb. 4 and placed in a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act, and now her mother and a team of attorneys are asking why.
  12. The Voluntary Prekindergarten room is one feature of the new Bardmoor Branch of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. The location also includes a child-care center and Preschool Academy.