Fixing the Failure Factories: Pinellas school board candidates offer their plan

Childs Park Recreation Center Photo by Samuel Johnson

Pinellas County School Board candidates are sharing their ideas to change the school system. During a forum last Saturday at Childs Park Recreation Center in Saint Petersburg, three candidates acknowledged dire problems. But they differed on the tools to fix them

The three candidates differ in their approach to combating the racial disparity of behavioral punishment in Pinellas schools. Matt Stewart advocates a discipline matrix be applied to every student. Bill Dudley urges for an off campus suspension with continued education. Joanne Lentino thinks early childhood learning can to quell future bad behavior. Combating the “failure factories”, those underfunded and underperforming schools in the county, is another matter. Dudley said equal distribution of resources is what can help.

“Teachers in the 5 failing schools should be given the same amount of money as an IB (international baccalaureate) teacher. Which 14% above their salary. I think; what requires more work; preparing a kid for advanced classes or preparing a kid who needs your help? (A kid) who needs the extra resources. I maintain that they’re both the same. Probably the latter is more important.”

Matt Stewart wants more community involvement to tackle the failure factories.

“We need to have individual mentors for each child. Whether that looks like involving more community members or modeling if off of other programs, like friends of the children which is active in this area; or a grandparent-grandmother program that’s evident in other areas. We need to begin to do that.”

Joanne Lentino says an early childhood development focus is the cure for the failure factories.

“We need to focus on early childhood education. And as we build that foundation, (then) we will be able to support and help children with social behavior issues and behavior in the classroom issues as well.”

The forum was organized by the Fight for 15 movement and all candidates agree that wages for educators should be increased.

Listen to story here:


Candidates for Pinellas County School Board: (R-L) Joanne Lentino, Matthew Stewart and Bill Dudley Photo by Samuel Johnson
Candidates for Pinellas County School Board: (R-L) Joanne Lentino, Matthew Stewart and Bill Dudley
Photo by Samuel Johnson

Listen to entire Meet & Greet here:

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