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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. Florida education news: Budgets, bills, Black Lives Matter and more


    STALEMATE: The Florida House and Senate see budget talks break down. If they cannot reach agreement, several education priorities could fall by the wayside....

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron are at odds over spending.
  2. Principal shuffle continues among elementary schools


    Three more Pasco County elementary schools will be getting new principals, with another round of shifts announced this week.

    The changes come as a result of superintendent Kurt Browning's decision to replace Charlene Tidd at low-performing West Zephyrhills Elementary with Scott Atkins from Sand Pine Elementary.

    Christine Twardosz is recommended to move from Centennial Elementary to Sand Pine, and Gretchen Rudolph-Fladd to Centennial Elementary from Veterans Elementary....

  3. New principals appointed for three Pasco County elementary schools


    Three more Pasco County elementary schools will be getting new principals, with another round of shifts announced Monday.

    The changes come as a result of superintendent Kurt Browning's decision to replace Charlene Tidd at low-performing West Zephyrhills Elementary with Scott Atkins from Sand Pine Elementary....

  4. Two Florida school districts, two rulings on teacher annual contract renewals


    As Florida lawmakers debate how flexible school districts may be in awarding teachers annual contracts, some school district leaders are pushing for clarity.

    They have pointed to two special magistrate opinions on the issue that arrived at differing takes on the 2011 law that did away with continuing contracts for any newly hired teachers....

    Florida teachers protested when state lawmakers eliminated the option of a continuing contract.
  5. Florida House bill on testing becomes latest education train


    Like its counterpart in the Senate, the Florida House bill on state testing -- once 8 pages long -- has become its chamber's vehicle to push forward a patchwork of education policy initiatives found in a variety of other measures working their way through the legislative process....

  6. Florida education news: Classroom diversity, science lessons, education funding and more


    DIVERSITY? The principal of Campbell Park Elementary in Pinellas County, a school with mostly black students, lands in hot water over a directive to place the school's few white students in the same class when possible.

    LOVING SCIENCE: A Pasco County teen becomes the first home-schooler to win the NSTA's best female middle school science student award....

    Campbell Park Elementary School
  7. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of April 16, 2017


    It's not all about the Legislature in Florida education news. We've seen a principal tell her staff to place all white children together in classes, a district ban D and F grades for its youngest students, and school board members say they welcome charter schools to help deal with crowding. Read all about it below.

    You can keep up with our conversation on Facebook, hear our podcast, and follow our blog to get all the latest Florida education news. All tips, comments and ideas welcome. Know anyone else who'd like to get this weekly roundup or other email updates? Have them send a note to

  8. Sides closer to contract agreement in Pasco County schools, union rep says


    Special magistrate recommendations in hand, representatives from the United School Employees of Pasco and the county school district met this week to determine whether they could reach a final agreement on pay and other outstanding issues.

    With significantly different interpretations of the district's finances coming from the two magistrates, the need for a compromise became more clear. The one who heard the school related personnel case sided more closely with USEP, while the officer who reviewed the teacher contract took the district's position....

    Pasco County school district and union officials continued to negotiate in December even after declaring impasse in contract talks.
  9. Gradebook podcast: Legislative trains, crowded schools, joyous classrooms and more


    With the Florida Legislative session nearing its end, lawmakers have begun creating education bill trains tying together tangentially related issues such as testing and recess, or school turnarounds and teacher bonuses. Reporter Jeff Solochek and editor Tom Tobin talk trains in today's podcast, along with a discussion on how school districts are coping with growth, and a few other education matters. [Photo link: Vimeo]...

  10. Florida education news: Testing, classroom efficiencies, religious expression and more


    TESTING: The Florida House moves its bill on state testing reforms closer to the Senate version, making compromise more likely.

    SEARCH FOR SAVINGS: A consultant recommends changes to Hillsborough County school classrooms to find efficiencies. • The Duval County School Board examines programs and departments for potential cuts, the Florida Times-Union reports....

  11. Religious liberties group files complaint against Hillsborough County teacher


    An Orlando-based religious liberties group has filed a complaint against a Hillsborough County high school teacher, accusing her of denying student rights to religious expression while promoting an LGBT agenda.

    In a letter to Hillsborough schools superintendent Jeff Eakins, the Liberty Counsel alleges that Riverview High math teacher Lora Jane Riedas barred at least three students from wearing Christian crosses on necklaces in her classroom, claiming they are "gang symbols."...

  12. Costs add up in Pasco County school attendance zone dispute


    Fighting a challenge to the School Board's recently adopted attendance maps did not come without its costs, and some of those could be passed to county taxpayers.

    The district received bills totaling $6,013.12 for Judge D.R. Alexander's time and travel to hear the cases, one for the west side and one for the east side.

    Chief finance officer Olga Swinson said she expected the district to fully cover the expenses, and not pass along the charge. Before paying, though, she sought board attorney Dennis Alfonso's advice....

  13. Florida House moves closer to Senate on changes to state testing system


    The Florida House took steps Thursday to bring its proposal for testing reform closer to the measure moving through the Senate.

    Rep. Manny Diaz, sponsor of the "Fewer Better Tests Act," tied several of the ideas from that bill into a separate effort to allow parents and others to see certain state tests after students take them....

    State Rep. Manny Diaz amends a bill on state testing Thursday to bring it closer to the Senate legislation on the issue.
  14. Florida education news: Recess, lawsuits, population growth and more


    CATCH THE TRAIN: Florida lawmakers begin amending key education bills to include priority issues, such as mandatory daily recess, as their spring session nears an end. More from the News Service of Florida....

    State Sen. Anitere Flores has added a mandatory recess provision to her testing bill, which is becoming train legislation.
  15. Pasco School Board members not thrilled with tax proposals related to impact fee plan


    A committee examining a Pasco County School Board request to increase impact fees on new homes has talked quite a bit about other sources of revenue instead.

    Members have asked for additional information on a sales tax or property tax increase to cover at least some of the costs associated with new schools made necessary because of growth. Tax revenue that pays for such projects would offset any impact fee. ...

    New homes in the Starkey Ranch subdivision and others have prompted calls for higher school impact fees.