Make us your home page


Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Following the Money in Hillsborough: District saves despite big hires

This might require SpringBoard math to understand, but the Hillsborough County School District estimates it saved money Tuesday in spite of $1.65 million in cabinet-level appointments.

These are the salaries of the 12 administrators who were either hired or retained on Tuesday.

Some stayed at their current salaries, which represent raises of as much as $20,000 in 2015, when the position of area director was upgraded to area superintendent.

Anna Brown's salary of $150,000 reflects the fact that before she was named an area superintendent, she was in charge of information and technologies, and the final years of the Gates grant. Shaylia McRae was listed with a salary of $94,000 when she ran the Student Success program, so her promotion to area superintendent, with a $134,000 salary, includes a substantial raise. 

It might look like a lot of money. But, in an analysis the district gave the School Board on Tuesday, officials estimate they have saved $57,726 in the general fund. (That's the main source of money from the state, and the one that bond-rating firms are concerned about.) …

Full Story

Hillsborough teachers want more money. The talks continue

The Hillsborough teachers union wants the district to procede with a three-phase plan to raise support workers' pay.

The Hillsborough teachers union wants the district to procede with a three-phase plan to raise support workers' pay.

Back at the bargaining table, the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association is again asking for higher pay for 20,000 employees, including more than 14,000 teachers.

Those teachers, who by now have nearly all transitioned into the pay plan worked out during the Gates teaching reform years, get raises every three years if their evaluation scores are high enough, which is almost always the case. The union wants to add $1,500 to each of these salary amounts, which works out to more than $7.5 million.

And that's not all: The union wants the district to pay extra if a teacher has an advanced degree -- $3,000 for a Masters. $4,300 for a Secondary Education Degree and $5,800 for a Doctoral degree. That practice went away with the Gates reforms, under the theory that teachers should be rewarded on their performance instead. But the union is disappointed that it did not get bonuses it wanted for psychologists, social workers and other members who are required to have graduate degrees to do the job. …

Full Story

Florida education news: UCF's downtown campus, one high school's botched exams and more

TAKING SHAPE: The University of Central Florida chooses a team to design and construct its $60 million campus in downtown Orlando, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

FLUBBED: Newly released documents shed more light on a testing mistake last month that caused more than 300 AP exams to be invalidated at Orange County's Lake Nona High School, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

LOOKING GOOD: The Volusia County School Board is impressed when superintendent Tom Russell declines his performance bonuses; they give him a three-year contract, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

GOING OFFLINE: The Bay County school district plans to improve its virtual school in ways that aren't virtual at all – with labs and one-on-one tutoring, the Panama News Herald reports.

DOUBTS: Members of the Duval County School Board are in a naysaying mood, raising questions about a building lease, payments to a lobbyist and a proposed expansion of the district's suspension centers, the Florida Times-Union reports.

SEARCHING: Jupiter High, which has had its share of controversy over the last year, is shopping for a new leader after principal Dan Frank leaves for another job, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Full Story

Florida education news: Pinellas changes direction, Hillsborough shakes it up, Broward offers a big new benefit and more

NEW FOCUS: Pinellas County school officials unveil a strategic plan that puts more emphasis on helping minority students.

FRESH START: In a milestone moment for his still-new administration, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins announces a major shake-up of the district's top leadership.

BABY BOOM: The Broward County school system finds a new way to attract teachers – low-priced, dstrict-drun child care, the Sun Sentinel reports.

THE KID: A senior at Jensen Beach High School files as a write-in candidate for a seat on the Martin County Commission. Chase Lurgio, 18, says he wants to help educate students about voting, get some campaign experience and have some fun, TCPalm reports.

SECRETS: Four summer camp sessions in cyber security are sold out as Pensacola area elementary and middle school students learn about passwords and keeping personal information to themselves, the Pensacola News Journal reports.

TOGETHER: The Space Coast Early Intervention Center in Melbourne starts a kindergarten class that will expand on its model of inclusion, bringing students of all abilities together, Florida Today reports. …

Full Story

Pinellas makes last attempt to save two charter schools

Days after Pinellas County school district officials sullenly announced they could not negotiate an agreement to acquire two troubled charter schools, a conversation between the schools' landlord and the district's deputy superintendent carried on via email.

[RELATED: Cost concerns kill effort to keep two Pinellas charter schools open]

Joe Rauenhorst of Charter School Properties, Inc., the owner of the property at 5175 45th St N in St. Petersburg where Windsor Preparatory Academy and East Windsor Middle Academy are located, sent an email Friday to Bill Corbett. In that email, Rauenhorst complimented the district's professionalism and said he was "flexible" with his $11.5 million sale price for the property as well as open to performing any needed modifications.

While on vacation, Corbett responded on Monday with the district's highest offer to buy the property for $3.5 million.

"It seems we are far too apart to continue," Corbett wrote. "If that is not the case, please respond to this email and I will go into town tomorrow to call you." …

Full Story

Here's the latest on Pinellas principal changes

Tzeporaw Sahadeo,  a former Hillsborough education and educational consultant, will become the principal of Sandy Lane Elementary

Learning Sciences Marzano Center website

Tzeporaw Sahadeo, a former Hillsborough education and educational consultant, will become the principal of Sandy Lane Elementary

The Pinellas County School Board approved two more principal appointments at their Tuesday board meeting.

Tzeporaw Sahadeo will become the new principal of Sandy Lane Elementary effective July 11. Sahadeo, an educational consultant and staff developer for the Learning Sciences Marzano Center, was one of eight applicants who applied for the position. She has previously served as a classroom teacher and assistant principal in Hillsborough County Public Schools and holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s of public health degree in health policy and programs and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of South Florida. 

Her appointment follows the July 8 resignation of Sandy Lane's principal, Nicole Clifton. The school is one of seven elementary schools in Pinellas with an F grade from the state and is currently under a district-led transformation effort. …

Full Story

Who will stay? Who will go? Find out here

Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins will announce more than a dozen top appointments at a specially called School Board meeting at 9 a.m.


Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins will announce more than a dozen top appointments at a specially called School Board meeting at 9 a.m.

Follow us on Twitter this morning for Hillsborough superintendent Jeff Eakins' administrative appointments. The School Board will vote on 20 top positions at a meeting that begins at 9 a.m.

These include all area superintendents and the chief business officer, chief operating officer, chief academic officer and head of diversity.

The meeting was scheduled early because a crowd was expected at the 3 p.m. meeting, which includes a vote on policy changes. However, a proposal to include "gender expression" in an anti-harassment policy is no longer on the agenda. That policy will remain as is, with no board discussion planned. 



Full Story

Florida education news: Fears of a contentious transgender debate, Alachua's new interim leader and more

BACKING AWAY: The Hillsborough County School Board, citing fears of a contentious meeting, cancels a scheduled vote on adding protections for transgender students.

TEMPORARY FIX: The Alachua County School Board appoints a familiar face, Sandy Hollinger, to run the district until its finds a permanent superintendent to replace Owen Roberts, the Gainesville Sun reports.

SECOND CHANCE: A federal judge in August upheld the Lake County School District's refusal to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance club at a middle school. Now a federal appeals court will hear the ACLU's arguments against that ruling, the Daily Commercial reports.

RESULTS ARE IN: Students in Duval County district schools outperformed those in charters on most state tests, the Florida Times-Union reports.

LOOSE ENDS: Too many staffers at Florida State College at Jacksonville had access to students' financial and academic information, the U.S. Department of Education says in a report that also cites other mostly minor problems, the Florida Times-Union reports. …

Full Story

Pinellas' Summer Bridge enrollment, attendance keep rising

The numbers are in.

Summer Bridge, Pinellas County Schools' summer school program, continues to surpass enrollment and attendance projections. The four-week program began last week with a record enrollment of 17,630 students from elementary to high school. While attendance varies day-to-day, on Wednesday, about 7,800 elementary students showed up out of the 11,400 who registered, 1,700 middle school students attended compared to 2,400 who enrolled and 2,300 high school students attended out of about 3,800 who enrolled.

Attendance hovered around 68 percent from June 20 to Wednesday.

During a recent visit to the Times' editorial board, Grego said that more than 30 percent of students registered for the program each year have been black. Black students account for about 19 percent of the school district's student population.

Last week's Summer Bridge attendance broken down by race was not available Monday. …

Full Story

Florida education news: A Best and Brightest development, search for an interim superintendent and more

ANOTHER CHALLENGE: An attorney representing the state teachers union says the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating Florida's controversial Best and Brightest bonus plan, the Naples Daily News reports.

MOVING ON: On the heels of last week's resignation of superintendent Owen Roberts, Alachua County School Board members meet tonight to select an interim leader, the Gainesville Sun reports.

NEW ERA: A Jacksonville nonprofit is set to take over the Head Start and Early Head Start programs in six central Florida counties this week in a controversial switch from the Ocala nonprofit that ran the programs for more than three decades, the Gainesville Sun reports

CHARTER BUS: The Manatee County school district works out an arrangement to donate 20 surplus school buses for use by three charter schools, the Bradenton Herald reports.

PINK SLIP: The Palm Beach County school district does not renew the contract of a teacher under investigation for allegedly collecting cash for academic “free passes,” the Palm Beach Post reports.

SCHOOL SEARCH: Using the summer to shop for colleges – a first-person account by the opinion editor at the Daytona Beach News Journal.

Full Story

Florida education news: Election developments, teacher hiring and more

FULL SLATE: The school board races take shape in Duval County, where 12 candidates are running for four seats, the Florida Times-Union reports.

TEACHERS WANTED: Volusia County schools are in a hiring mode even as the teachers union is taking legal action against the district, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

WE HAVE A RACE: Stuart attorney Scott King enters the Martin County superintendent's race at the wire on Friday, giving incumbent Laurie Gaylord a challenger, TCPalm reports.

CRUISING TO VICTORY: Two school board members appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill vacancies – one in Manatee County, the other in Broward County - keep their seats after no one files to challenge them, the Herald-Tribune and Sun-Sentinel report.

MORE SPACE: FAMU reveals a plan to turn a closed housing complex into a 440-bed living-learning community to be called Palmetto North, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

Full Story

Pinellas County School Board election races see last-minute shake-ups

Robert J. Beal, 45, of Seminole, has filed to run for the Pinellas County School Board's District 1 at-large seat.

Courtesy of Robert J. Beal

Robert J. Beal, 45, of Seminole, has filed to run for the Pinellas County School Board's District 1 at-large seat.

The qualifying period for candidates to enter the 2016 election for the Pinellas County School Board ended at noon today, leaving nine candidates in the race with three withdrawing and one late addition.

The already competitive District 1 at-large seat has lost one candidate (Alex C. Powers, an online social studies teacher and football coach at Pinellas Park High) but gained another: Robert J. Beal, a 45-year-old St. Petersburg College student, Marine and father advocating for his daughter with special needs, officially qualified for the race on Wednesday.

Beal says his 14-year-old daughter, Lauren, struggles with dyslexia and bipolar disorder and reads at a third-grade level. He enrolled her in two public elementary schools where he says she was passed through several grades without anyone monitoring her progress. Frustrated, he put his daughter in a private school that he says did not have the resources to address her needs. …

Full Story

Florida education news: Charter troubles, expulsions, a nifty school district app and more

OUT OF TIME: Pinellas County school officials make a late bid to absorb two troubled charters, but the numbers don't work in the end.

UPTICK: The Manatee County School Board prepares to expel a middle school student for bringing a BB gun to campus. That will make seven expulsions since August in a district where the last one before that was in 2009, the Bradenton Herald reports.

TECHNOLOGY: An $835,000 upgrade to the Broward County school system's app has many new features, including one that allows parents to know in real time if their kids are missing class, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

FEEDBACK: Some members of the Florida Board of Governors advise Florida Gulf Coast University to fix its weaknesses before thinking about starting schools of pharmacy and dentistry, the News-Press reports.

IN THE OPEN: A private battle over the ousted headmaster at Saint Andrews School erupts into a very public affair, with a lawsuit and nasty allegations, the Palm Beach Post reports.

BIG DOG: Leading the pack in this year's performance funding sweepstakes is the University of Florida, which takes home $ 96.9 million, the Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner report. …

Full Story

NAACP grades Pinellas School Board candidates' debate performances

St. Petersburg's NAACP branch has released a report card grading six Pinellas County School Board candidates' responses at their Tuesday night debate.

District 1 at-large candidates Joanne Lentino and Matt Stewart finished on top with a "B" grade, District 4 candidate Eileen Long was rated a C+ and District 5 candidates Carol Cook, Mike Petruccelli and Eliseo Santana earned C grades. Candidates Bill Dudley, Ken Peluso and Chris Hardman were not graded because they did not attend the debate hosted at St. Petersburg College's Allstate Center.

Candidates were rated by local NAACP officials on how their responses to three questions aligned with NAACP positions and how well candidates justified those positions on a four-point scale. For example, a candidate who received an "A" was given four points for a response in line with the branch's position with sufficient justification, and a candidate who received a "B" got three points because he or she did not give a response in line with the branch but gave a rational justification. …

Full Story

USF officially reaches a milestone that will push it to the next level

The Florida Board of Governors made it official today, formally designating the University of South Florida as the state's first “emerging preeminent state research university.”

The board's Strategic Planning Committee gave preliminary approval to the designation earlier this week.

Thursday's decision puts USF on a path to achieve “preeminent” status, which would raise its national standing and put it in league with the University of Florida and Florida State University as the most elite of Florida's state universities. The designation also means more money every year from a pool of money that rewards state universities for hitting key metrics.

USF gets $5 million from the pool this year, with the promise of millions more when it achieves preeminent status. School officials predict that will come by 2018. …

Full Story