Friday, September 21, 2018


Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek has reported about Florida's public education system since the first school tried to return recognition funds from Jeb Bush's then-new A-Plus plan. Currently based in Pasco County, he covers state, regional and local education issues for the Tampa Bay Times both in print and online, including weekly podcasts and whatever new formats he can figure out. Follow on Twitter @jeffsolochek.

Dressed in her shoulder pads and jersey, eighth-grader and varsity football player, Julliana Michael, 13, holds her flute as she looks toward the football field before playing the National Anthem with the Seven Springs marching band at Seven Springs Middle School in New Port Richey on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. Michael plays the National Anthem and the school’s fight song before starting the game as kicker. She also plays linebacker and wide receiver.

Football player, band member, advanced student, girl: Pasco eighth-grader does it all well

TRINITY — Julie Michael stood in the metal bleachers, flute poised at her lips, ready to play the national anthem with the Seven Springs Middle School advanced band.As the band segued into the school fight song, the eighth-grader...
Published: 09/20/18
Pasco County School Board vice chairwoman Alison Crumbley reviews the district's 2018-19 budget proposal before the board's final public hearing and adoption Tuesday. Crumbley later lamented the state's unwillingness to allow districts to keep their tax rates flat so they can take advantage of rising property values.  JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK | Times

Employee pay dominates Pasco schools budget debate

LAND O' LAKES — The Pasco County School Board unanimously adopted a $1.26 billion budget Tuesday with a slightly lowered tax rate and funding for new school construction in both east and west Pasco.But the spending item that grabbed most...
Published: 09/19/18

Pasco Schools employees union seeks tax referendum to support pay raises

The president of Pasco County's school employees union is calling for a referendum in which voters can decide whether to increase local property taxes so teachers and staff can get raises."USEP feels that the burden for coming up with...
Published: 09/17/18
Tabitha Barron, a social worker at Fivay High School, nearly lost her job because she struggled with a state test required for teacher certification. She passed after taking a Pasco school district help session, which Barron called

Tutoring the teachers: School districts work to coach those who struggle on state tests

Tabitha Barron spent two decades in the U.S. Air Force before working with homeless children in San Antonio, Texas, schools.When she moved to Pasco County four years ago, the 51-year-old social worker spent her time tending to "every problem...
Updated one month ago
Turnout for Tuesday's primary was higher than it's been in years. But, as is the case in most elections, many voters did not completely fill out their ballots. Election officials say this does not bode well for the general election, when voters will be asked to consider as many as 13 constitutional amendments at the end of a long ballot. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]

Voters flocked to Tuesday’s primary, then skipped parts of the ballot. What does that mean for November?

Election supervisors across the Tampa Bay area cheered a higher-than-expected voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary.
Updated one month ago

Pasco teachers react to talk of extending work day and increasing pay

Even as they began circulating details of their plan to extend teacher work days as a way to increase pay, Pasco County school district officials continued to research how unusual their idea might be.Through the state superintendentís...
Updated one month ago
Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes

Ten Pasco School Board candidates talk about contentious attendance zone changes

As Pasco County voters head to the polls Tuesday, three School Board races highlight the local choices before them.The eventual winners of Districts 1, 3 and 5 face myriad issues that range from teacher pay raises to the future of charter...
Updated one month ago

Pasco schools donít plan to move teachers over state scores

Florida school districts recently received their teachersí state "value-added" scores, and some scrambled to reassign those who got poor marks out of schools in turnaround status.But Pasco County wasnít one of them, despite state rules relating...
Updated one month ago
Faculty member Lisa Ponce assists Joy Celine, center, 11, and Santana Singletary, 10, in finding their new classrooms. Students at Woodland Elementary School in Zephyrhills started the 2018-2019 school year at a spruced up campus.

New programs, new facilities, new optimism mark first day of school in Pasco

A rainbow spanned the horizon behind Wendell Krinn Technical High School early Monday, as students arrived for the first day of classes.Principal Chris Dunning viewed it as a positive omen for K-Tech, as most refer to the school that replaced...
Updated one month ago
Pasco School District headquarters in Land O' Lakes

Attendance zones key issue in Pasco District 3 School Board race

Insider vs. outsiders.That, in a nutshell, describes the race for Pasco County School Board District 3.Incumbent Cynthia Armstrong, seeking her third term, has ties deep in the business and civic world of the west side. A former...
Updated: 2 months ago