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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


Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

  1. Most Florida teachers continue to get strong evaluation ratings


    Nearly all of Florida's evaluated public school teachers continued to receive strong reviews in 2015-16, according to newly released data from the state Department of Education.

    As in previous years, about 98 percent of teachers statewide rated either "highly effective" (42.9%) or "effective" (52.0%), with a tiny 0.2 percent receiving "unsatisfactory" marks, 0.7 percent as "developing" in their first three years, and 1.2 percent "needs improvement." Another 28,683 teachers were not evaluated....

  2. Several schools get new leaders


    New principals were appointed at four Pasco County schools during the past week, part of a leadership shake-up that began with the death of Crews Lake Middle School principal Adam Kennedy in January.

    Brandon Bracciale, principal at Weightman Middle School, will transfer to the same job at Chasco Middle School, which David Huyck led until his move to Crews Lake three weeks ago. Bracciale had applied for the district's assistant superintendent for middle schools position, and was offered the Chasco Middle job after the district post went to Marcy Hetzler-Nettles....

  3. Pasco County parents petition to keep principal Chris Dunning (but he's going anyway)


    It took maybe an hour after the news came out Friday for parents to start protesting the reassignment of admired Seven Springs Middle School principal Chris Dunning.

    "It goes without saying how much we love Chris Dunning at SSMS...and we​,​ meaning staff, parents and students," community activist Heide Janshon wrote in an email to superintendent Kurt Browning. "The news we all got today is shocking and crushing. We do not want to lose him."...

    Principal Chris Dunning
  4. Florida education news: Budget cuts, teacher evaluations, A-Plus funds and more


    BUDGET CUTTING: Hillsborough County school district officials are hesitant to cut grant-funded programs that help students, even after the money runs out.

    IN COURT: A former Pinellas County student who was attacked at school sues the district....

  5. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of Feb. 12, 2017


    Florida education news always picks up when lawmakers get to Tallahassee, and this week is no exception. They debated testing and other key issues in another round of committee meetings. But there was so much more. The State Board of Education approved tiny Jefferson County to become Florida's first county charter school district, several leaders with ties to education won spots on the Constitution Revision Commission, and some Palm Beach children and parents learned what pressures they face when they decide to speak out against school district actions....

  6. Pasco County school district announces several principal shifts


    Four Pasco County schools got new principals appointed Friday, as part of a leadership shakeup that began with the death of Crews Lake Middle School principal Adam Kennedy in January.

    Brandon Bracciale, principal of Weightman Middle School, will transfer to the same job at Chasco Middle School, where David Huyck led until his move to Crews Lake two weeks ago. Bracciale had applied for the district's assistant superintendent for middle schools position, and was offered the Chasco Middle job after the district post went to Marcy Hetzler-Nettles....

  7. Florida lawmakers consider bill urging federal government to back off on education


    Almost since the creation of the U.S. Education Department, a conservative position has held that education is local, and no federal interference is necessary.

    President Donald Trump has suggested getting rid of the department. A Kentucky member of Congress has a bill in committee now to terminate it....

  8. Gradebook podcast: Testing, recess and more


    This week, some key Florida lawmakers introduced legislation to move the state reading and math tests to the final three weeks of the year, among other changes toward what they're calling "Fewer, Better Tests." A parent proposal to require all elementary schools to offer 20 minutes of daily recess also began to gain traction, but also some cautions along the way. Reporter Jeff Solochek and education editor Tom Tobin talk about these and other Florida education issues making the news this week....

    Anitere Flores, president pro tempore of the Florida Senate, announces the "Fewer, Better Tests" bill in the Capitol on Wednesday.
  9. Florida education news: State tests, Sunshine Law, Facebook posts and more


    TEACHER PAY: Florida teachers react to new teacher incentive proposals from Tallahassee by saying they'd prefer raises rather than gimmicks.

    HARD WORK: Struggling Marion County schools strive to ensure their students are prepared for looming state tests, the Ocala Star-Banner reports....

  10. Look at recess mandate for Florida elementary schools through longer lens, lawmakers say


    Parents across Florida who've been advocating for mandatory daily recess in all elementary schools have grown notably enthusiastic as the proposal gains steam in both chambers of the Legislature.

    The idea's primary opponent in the Senate, John Legg, no longer sits in the upper body. And its two holdouts in the House, Speaker Richard Corcoran and Rep. Michael Bileca, appear mollified by provisions in the latest version of the legislation....

    State Sen. Bill Montford says lawmakers should consider "what we have crammed into the school day" when discussing whether to mandate daily recess in Florida elementary schools.
  11. Pasco County school rezoning court case set for early June


    A group of west Pasco County parents suing the local School Board to stop recently approved attendance zone revisions will have to wait until early June to get one of their complaints heard.

    Circuit Court Judge Declan Mansfield has scheduled a hearing on the parents' request for a temporary injunction against implementation of the new boundaries for 9 a.m. June 2 -- long after district officials anticipate approving school choice assignments and other plans for 2017-18....

  12. Florida education news: Testing, technology, teacher pay and more


    TESTING: Three high-ranking Florida lawmakers introduce legislation to shrink the Florida Standards Assessment testing administration window.

    TEACHER TECH: All Hernando County teachers get computer upgrades....

  13. Where's the Pasco County School Board agenda?


    For nearly six years, Pasco County residents could turn to one website to find the local School Board's meeting agenda and backing documents.

    When the publication date arrived this week for the Feb. 21 agenda, though, the document did not appear on the site.

    The district has migrated to a new location for its online agenda. The site will include meeting minutes and board votes, as well as an easier to use search function and quicker access to documents that had to be downloaded in the past....

  14. Florida per-student funding remains well below average, national report shows


    Florida's public education spending per student remained below the national average and under many other southern states, according to a newly released National Center for Education Statistics report based on fiscal 2014.

    The report shows Florida spent $8,714 per student, compared to the national average of $10,936. Florida's per-student expenditures exceeded those of Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas anywhere from $100 to $1,100. But it logged in behind Alabama by $311, Georgia by $446 and Louisiana by $2,070, among others....

  15. Florida Constitution Revision Commission membership to include state education leaders


    The membership of Florida's Constitution Revision Commission continued to shape up Wednesday, as Senate President Joe Negron announced his nine appointments to the panel.

    Among his choices were two people with strong influence in state K-12 education matters over the past several years, Patricia Levesque and Don Gaetz. Each have been key proponents of the test-based accountability model launched under former governor Jeb Bush, whose foundation Levesque leads. Levesque, who also served on the state Taxation and Budget Reform Commission in 2007, has been a controversial figure in the state's education circles, with the "reform" movement backing her and others heavily critical of her philosophy....