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Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek writes about schools and education for the Tampa Bay Times. Solochek has covered the school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 2000. He also oversees The Gradebook education blog.

Phone: (813) 909-4614

Email: jsolochek@tampabay.com

Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

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  1. More than 400 apply to Pasco technical high school

    K12

    School choice for 2018-19 is in full swing, and district officials said they've been pleased with the interest they've seen so far.

    The window for applying to the district's magnet schools closed Jan. 12, except for applications for the new Wendell Krinn Technical High School, which remain open through early February.

    The School Board hopes to fill the technical high school with about 600 students. Through the first week of applications, it received 446 submissions, district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said....

  2. Pasco school board election ballot fills

    K12

    One Pasco County School Board incumbent has decided not to pursue another term, while two others have announced their 2018 reelection bids.

    Steve Luikart, often a dissenting voice on some of the board's more contentious issues, said Wednesday he will not seek a third term representing District 5 serving northwest Pasco.

    Luikart, a retired assistant principal, said after eight years on the board and 32 year inside the schools, the time had come to spend more time traveling and fishing with his family....

  3. When a school survey gets personal, the superintendent steps in

    K12

    TRINITY — Students returning to classes at Pasco County's Mitchell High School on Tuesday were greeted with a survey asking them, among other things, whether they were more attracted to others of the same gender, the opposite gender, both or neither.

    The "Matchomatics" questionnaire was part of a fund raiser, the collected information to help teens find their best match among their nearly 2,000 schoolmates heading toward Valentine's Day. Kids could buy their results....

  4. Will education issues stay on the Legislature's front burner?

    Education

    Every year, education policy tends to jump to the top of Florida's legislative priority list — even after lawmakers vow to take a break from it. The topic can get emotional.

    Last spring, the massive education bill known as HB 7069 ground the Legislature to a near halt, and Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the K-12 education budget, triggering a special session.

    Past sessions saw heated debates over Jeb Bush's A-Plus accountability plan, Charlie Crist's veto of SB 6 to end teacher continuing contracts and Scott's approval of SB 736, which changed the way teachers are evaluated and paid....

  5. Pasco schools release 2018-19 calendar

    K12

    Sure, it's winter break. But it's never too early to begin planning for the next school year.

    At its December meeting, the Pasco County School Board adopted the student calendar for 2018-19, to allow parents time to prepare.

    Classes are scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 13, a week after teachers show up for planning. The state allows schools to resume on Aug. 10 or later, but district officials did not want to start the year on a Friday....

  6. Year in review: Pasco schools await student response to technical high school

    K12

    Pasco County school district leaders have longed for years to create a technical high school.

    At the same time, Ridgewood High School has struggled to meet state objectives on annual spring tests, and faced being forced into turnaround options that appealed to few.

    The solution: Shut down Ridgewood and turn it into a magnet technical high school.

    The idea didn't come without its critics, including members of the School Board. They worried about how quickly they would need to convert to Wendell Krinn Technical High School, and if quality would suffer as a result....

  7. Year in review: Pasco school boundary fights prompt new process

    K12

    The story of Pasco County's fight over school attendance boundaries has gone on for more than one calendar year.

    Parents living in the Trinity area first got wind in August 2016 that the school district might reassign their children out of the popular, but crowded Mitchell High, and into a less desirable high school. The goal was to balance enrollments between over- and under-capacity schools....

  8. Year in review: County tallies costs of Hurricane Irma

    K12

    Hurricane Irma threatened to rock Pasco County's world in early September.

    Its weakened eye passed over Dade City and Zephyrhills, leaving in its wake downed trees, power outages to more than 100,000 customers, flooding and damaged homes.

    For many, though, the winds and rain of the tropical storm it had become were but an inconvenience, serving as a reminder that their lives could be upturned in an instant....

  9. Candidates line up for Pasco County School board seats

    K12

    With elections less than a year off, interest is growing in the three Pasco County School Board seats with expiring terms.

    Most recently, Hudson Middle School teacher Mike Aday has announced his candidacy for the District 5 seat currently held by Steve Luikart.

    Aday, 32, is a Gulf High School 2004 salutatorian, a one-time teacher of the year for his school and an active member of the United School Employees of Pasco....

  10. Pasco's Ridgewood High gets new name that honors its past

    K12

    LAND O'LAKES — What a difference a year makes.

    The Pasco County School Board held a public hearing Tuesday to hear community input on proposed new attendance zones for west-side high schools. This time only two people spoke out.

    Parent Michael Krietemeyer told the board its concept for a technical high school to serve the area was "really great." But the plan to reassign current Ridgewood High students to either Fivay or Gulf high, depending which side of Ridge Road they live on, is crushing, he argued....

  11. Interest building for Pasco County's new technical high school

    K12

    Shelsea Henriquez stared blankly ahead, her Pine View Middle eighth-grade schoolmates fidgeting around her, as she listened to a presentation about Pasco County's new technical high school opening in the fall.

    "I'm not really interested in things that are technical," said Henriquez, 14, who came to the morning assembly prepared to dismiss the information out of hand.

    "But then I saw they have a biomedical program," she said, and began taking detailed notes. "That's why I'm considering doing it."...

  12. Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

    Teachers

    The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren't as high as anyone would like, but they're now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

    If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements would provide teachers a 0.75 percent raise, divided evenly between a cost-of-living boost and an increase to the salary schedule. School-related personnel including bus drivers, cafeteria workers and teachers' aides would get a 2.25 percent raise....

  13. Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

    Teachers

    The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren't as high as anyone would like, but they're now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

    If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements would provide teachers a 0.75 percent raise, divided evenly between a cost-of-living boost and an increase to the salary schedule. School-related personnel including bus drivers, cafeteria workers and teachers' aides would get a 2.25 percent raise....

  14. Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

    K12

    Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.

    The state Office of Early Learning has now issued recommendations to trim back the 30 ELCs, with one of the moves being to merge Citrus County's with the Pasco-Hernando coalition.

    In an email to coalition board members and supporters, executive director Jim Farrelly called the possibility "likely controversial."...

  15. Pasco-Hernando State College faculty to consider unionizing

    College

    Caitlin Gille grew up in a union household in Wisconsin, where her mom was a long-time teacher in the small city of Wauwatosa, just west of Milwaukee.

    She was accustomed to seeing educators advocating for their working conditions and pay, having a seat at the table to discuss issues affecting their livelihoods.

    So when Gille arrived at Pasco-Hernando Community College (now State College) a decade ago to begin her first full-time teaching job, she was surprised to learn the faculty had no union at all. Still, she took it in stride, teaching her biology classes and becoming more enamored with the college she now viewed as part of her life....