Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Antonio Burt, the high-profile leader of Pinellas' school turnaround effort, resigns

Antonio Burt, who started in Pinellas in December 2015, will leave at the end of June.

Antonio Burt, who started in Pinellas in December 2015, will leave at the end of June.

Antonio Burt, who was hired to lead an aggressive effort to turn around eight of Pinellas County's lowest-performing schools, has resigned and will leave at the end of June.

Burt has been on the job for about a year and a half and was the first director of the school district's new Transformation Zone. He built a reputation as a "turnaround leader" after improving struggling schools in Memphis. Superintendent Mike Grego said Friday that he was grateful to Burt for his work in Pinellas and credited him with creating a stronger foundation in the eight schools in the zone.

"We as a district learned a lot," he said.

Burt couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but Grego said Burt's reasons for leaving were personal. Burt got married last fall; his wife works in Memphis. Burt has offered to return as a consultant as needed to help with the transition, Grego said.

"The work's not done. He knows it. I know it," he said. "But … we've made great progress this year."

Burt, who reported directly to Grego, stepped into the high-profile role in December 2015. His job was to oversee the improvement of five struggling St. Petersburg elementary schools — Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo and Melrose — that were dealing with the effects of racial and economic segregation. Later, Grego added three other schools: Sandy Lane and High Point elementary schools, both in Clearwater, and Midtown Academy in St. Petersburg.

Three of the original five schools improved their school grades last year; Maximo jumped to a C from an F, while Lakewood and Fairmount Park earned D's.

In his resignation letter, Burt said he has "full confidence" that his replacement will be able to build on the momentum.

Burt introduced a new assessment, the Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, which is used in school districts nationwide, to provide teachers and principals with data more closely aligned to the Florida Standards Assessments. All elementary schools in the district will use it next year. The zone's leadership team also created biweekly assessments in an effort to provide teachers with data faster.

This was the first full school year of Burt's leadership, and it's still unclear how well the eight schools will do on the state's standardized exams. Some students still are taking the tests.

District officials said in March that they were seeing promising signs in the schools. The D-rated High Point had the highest performance and growth on internal tests. Melrose, an F school, also had "high levels" of growth in reading and math. Maximo, which jumped to a C, had continued to make "impressive" strides, they said.

Grego said he plans to advertise Burt's job and will give the School Board an update about the Transformation Zone later this month. Board member Linda Lerner said she believes the district will get someone good to take over.

"I have every reason to believe he's done a good job," she said.

Maria Scruggs, president of the St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP, had previously expressed concerns about how Burt's position meshed with the creation of another new district position, the minority achievement officer. She said she was happy for Burt, but: "I just wonder if we're going to see the results."

Contact Cara Fitzpatrick at cfitzpatrick@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8846. Follow @Fitz_ly.

Antonio Burt, the high-profile leader of Pinellas' school turnaround effort, resigns 05/05/17 [Last modified: Friday, May 5, 2017 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shore Acres residents adjusting to 40th Avenue bridge closure

    Roads

    ST. PETERSBURG — Nina Pollauf, principal of Shore Acres Elementary School, worried last Friday when she heard about the 40th Avenue bridge closing for emergency repairs.

    A group from the engineering firm Kisinger Campo & Associates assess the situation on the 40th Avenue bridge.. LARA CERRI   |   Times
  2. Powerball jackpot climbs to $510 million, 8th largest

    Nation

    DES MOINES, Iowa — The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $510 million, making it one of the largest in U.S. history.

    A store clerk pulls a Powerball ticket from the printer for a customer, Tuesday, in Hialeah, Fla. The Powerball jackpot has has rolled 18 times, since the June 14, drawing, resulting in an estimated $510 million for Wednesday night's drawing. [Associated Press]
  3. Photo of the Day for August 17, 2017 - 'Keeping a watchful eye'

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from George Capaz of Wesley Chapel, FL. The photo was taken at a small roadside lake at Bruce B. Downs Blvd and Cross Creek Blvd.

  4. Jerseys worn by Tim Tebow fans commemorate the various phases of his athletic career

    Minors

    Charles Bottoms, right, with his wife, Annie, wore the Tim Tebow Broncos jersey to Steinbrenner Field "only because I didn't want to wear my good (signed Gators) Tebow one." [RYAN ROMANO | Times]
  5. Security threat leads Florida to cancel prison visitation

    Crime

    TALLAHASSEE — Prison officials in Florida cited a security threat in canceling visitation at all of its 149 facilities.