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Colleen Wright, Times Staff Writer

Colleen Wright

Colleen Wright covers Pinellas County Schools since joining the Times in 2015. Florida born and bred, she was raised in Miami and graduated from the University of Florida.

Phone: (727) 893-8643

E-mail: cwright@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Colleen_Wright

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  1. Campbell Park principal will leave campus

    Blog

    Christine Hoffman, the embattled principal of Campbell Park Elementary will leave campus while an "administrative review" is conducted, district officials said Monday.

    Hoffman created an uproar last week when she sent an email to her school staff about classroom rosters for the coming year and said "white students should be in the same class" with no explanation or context. She later sent out a second email to staff apologizing for "poor judgment," and a letter went home to parents Friday with an invitation to meet with parents Monday morning and afternoon....

    Christine Hoffman, principal of Campbell Park Elementary school in south St. Petersburg, has been called on to resign for sending an email to staff instructing classroom teachers that "white students should be in the same class."
  2. Campbell Park principal's email to staff: 'White students should be in same class'

    Education

    ST. PETERSBURG — Principal Christine Hoffman emailed her staff at Campbell Park Elementary a detailed set of instructions on what classroom rosters should look like in the coming school year.

    Among her requirements: students with a mix of reading levels, an equal number of boys and girls, no more than two students who frequently misbehave per class and this: "white students should be in the same class."...

    Christine Hoffman said her guideline was “racially insensitive.”
  3. White students at Campbell Park Elementary 'should be in the same class,' principal emails staff

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG - Principal Christine Hoffman emailed her staff at Campbell Park Elementary a detailed set of instructions on what classroom rosters should look like in the coming school year.

    Among her requirements: students with a mix of reading levels, an equal number of boys and girls, no more than two students who frequently misbehave per class and this: “white students should be in the same class.”...

    Campbell Park Elementary principal Christine Hoffman instructed school staff on Tuesday to assign white students to the same class. White students make up 8 percent of the predominantly black school's enrollment.
  4. Tarpon Spring's High band gets new home in $12.2 million renovation

    K12

    TARPON SPRINGS — One of the most renowned high school music programs in the country practices in a maze of cramped classrooms built in the 1960s.

    Most of the 400 students in Tarpon Springs High's Leadership Conservatory for the Arts magnet are packed into five classes held simultaneously in separate rooms. Sometimes the building's narrow hallways double as rehearsal and storage space....

    This architect’s rendering shows one of two courtyards that will be part the renovation at Tarpon Springs High.
  5. Man who attacks Tampa police officer gets clotheslined by taxi driver as bystanders rush to help

    Crime

    TAMPA — Ray Freeman watched the police officer get knocked down through his cab's windshield, just a few feet away. Then he said he saw the man who attacked the officer reach for his holster.

    "I was afraid he was going to take the officer's gun and kill him," said Freeman, 56, of Tampa.

    The cabbie said he got out of his taxi, rushed over, stuck out his arm and clotheslined the man, knocking him onto N Himes Avenue across from Raymond James Stadium. So began a wild melee in the middle of Wednesday afternoon traffic as bystanders wrestled the officer's attacker to the ground and helped subdue him, according to Tampa police....

  6. District staff, principal changes on Pinellas School Board's agenda

    Blog

    The Pinellas County School Board's Tuesday meeting agenda is rife with promotions and shake-ups in district and school-level staff pending School Board approval.

    - Kevin Hendrick, principal of Northeast High, has been promoted to associate superintendent of teaching and learning services effective July 1 following the retirement of Pam Moore.

    - Al Bennett, principal of St. Petersburg High, will become the district's next director of athletics, pre-K-12 physical education, health education programs and school wellness on June 30 following the retirement of Nickolas R. Grasso....

    Al Bennett, principal of St. Petersburg High, will become the district's next director of athletics, pre-K-12 physical education, health education programs and school wellness on June 30 following the retirement of Nickolas R. Grasso.
  7. Pinellas unveils plans for a new middle school in St. Petersburg

    K12

    LARGO — Pinellas County school officials have unveiled plans for a new St. Petersburg middle school that would open in August 2021 with involvement from the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.

    The joint facility would be located on the now-vacant site of the former Riviera Middle School, which the district closed in 2008 and later razed. The new school would cost the school district $15 million to $17 million and would have 40 classrooms with room for up to 800 students. Shared facilities between the school and the YMCA could include a gymnasium, auditorium and a pool....

    Pinellas County school officials have announced plans for a new school at a the former site of Riviera Middle School, seen here in 2009 when it was being razed. The school would be for grades 6-8 and contain a YMCA facility. [Times files]
  8. Oak Grove Middle school resource officer named Pinellas SRO of the year

    Blog

    Officer Lenshawn Price, a school resource officer at Oak Grove Middle, was named Monday as the School Resource Officer of the Year for Pinellas County Schools.

    Price, 44, was surprised with the award at Oak Grove with a visit from Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter and Pinellas County Schools Police Chief Rick Stelljes. Price has worked for the Clearwater Police Department for 17 years, with the last nine years spent at Oak Grove....

    Oak Grove Middle school resource officer Lenshawn Price poses with Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter, right, and Pinellas County Schools Police Chief Rick Stelljes on Monday after Price was named School Resource Officer of the Year for Pinellas County Schools. Price, 44, has worked for the Clearwater Police Department for 17 years, the last nine spent as Oak Grove's SRO.
  9. Transformation Zone schools catching up to High Point Elementary's English language learners on latest FSA-predictive tests

    Blog

    This week the Times published a story about beating the odds at High Point Elementary.

    The Clearwater school's roughly 250 English language learners are faring better than other struggling Pinellas schools on tests designed to be predictors for the Florida Standards Assessments. High Point's ELL students in grades 3, 4 and 5 outperformed other schools on reading tests and kept pace on math tests. High Point's younger grades struggled to be as competitive....

    A fourth-grade student at High Point Elementary updates a board that shows the progress of English language learners. On many measures in early tests, the school's English language learners in third, fourth and fifth grades are outperforming their peers in other struggling schools who have spoken English their whole lives. The staff at High Point is hoping their students' performance on the early tests translates to success on state assessments this spring.
  10. Newpoint sued for not paying rent on Windsor Prep property

    Blog

    Newpoint Education Partners, the charter school management company that once operated five schools in Pinellas County, has been sued for not paying rent on the former Windsor Preparatory Academy property. 

    A lawsuit filed last week in Pinellas County Circuit Court alleges Newpoint has failed to pay rent since July 2016. The lawsuit does not specify how much money is owed, but financial statements from March 2016 show that the school paid $64,885 that month....

  11. At High Point Elementary, 'English language learners' are beating the odds

    K12

    CLEARWATER — Something good is happening at High Point Elementary, but the experts can't quite explain it.

    The school near St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport has one of Pinellas County's largest enrollments of students who are not fluent in English. Known in education circles as "English language learners" or ELL, they typically would be expected to lag as many as 30 percentage points behind peers who have spoken English all their lives, according to national data on standardized tests. ...

    High Point Elementary teacher Kristin Bierman works with a fourth-grade guided reading group on April 7, 2017. The classroom for English language learners has 20 students, and Bierman says she typically works with groups of six students at a time for 15 to 20 minutes each. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  12. Pinellas edges toward plan that would join a school and YMCA facility

    K12

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County School District officials are inching closer to creating a joint school and YMCA facility in the Shore Acres community.

    A year and a half after the idea was first introduced to the Pinellas County School Board, representatives from the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg will present a time line for the possible project at the School Board's April 18 workshop. School Board members are expected to discuss the proposal at length....

    For more than 40 years, the 500 block of 62nd Avenue NE in St. Petersburg was home to Riviera Middle School. The school closed in 2008 and was razed the following year. Now Pinellas school officials are considering using the parcel for a joint school and YMCA facility. [Times (2009)]
  13. Pinellas food service manager nominated as finalist for state School-Related Employee of the Year

    Blog

    David Melnick, a food service manager at Lake St. George Elementary in Palm Harbor, was nominated as one of five finalists for the statewide School-Related Employee of the Year award.

    Melnick, 33, was named the 2016-17 Support Employee of the Year for the Pinellas County school district in January. He went on to represent Pinellas in the statewide competition....

  14. Community Foundation of Tampa Bay doles out $128,000 for education programs

    Blog

    The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has chosen 10 educational programs as recipients of more than $128,000 in grant funding. 

    The foundation, which has donated more than $185 million to non-profit organizations since it was founded in 1990, aims to fund programs that support early learning and literacy programs for youth.

    "These organizations are filling gaps in education and development for children that are crucial to building a better future for Tampa Bay through increased educational attainment and workforce readiness and participation," said Marlene Spalten, the foundation's president and CEO, in a press release....

  15. Pinellas teacher union leader takes issue with 'inconsistencies' in teacher evaluation system

    Blog

    There’s ongoing debate about whether student growth scores should be factored into a teacher’s evaluation, but in Pinellas, that only makes up a third of a teacher’s total evaluation score. The largest chunk -- 57 percent -- rides on a principal or assistant principal’s rating after four on-the-job observations.

    Those observations could be the difference between a rating of effective or highly effective, which could earn teachers a bigger pay bonus or eligibility for a Best and Brightest scholarship. Or, it could be the tipping point between effective or developing/needs improvement or unsatisfactory, which earns no bonuses....