Pinellas School Board candidates forum

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Pinellas County School Board candidates
Pinellas County School Board candidates and Suncoast Tiger Bay Club officers. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (3 August 2016).

Several public schools in South St. Petersburg have been labeled “Failure Factories” by the Tampa Bay Times after an investigation found chronic low performance among the worst in the state; at a forum in St. Pete Wednesday, Pinellas School Board candidates for countywide District 1 responded to what they would do to help these failing schools.

Here’s audio from Bill Dudley, Joanne Lentino and Matt Stewart responding to failing schools question.

Bill Dudley:

“Okay, what has been done so far is there have been some personal changes in shifts–people are in place. And I would advocate, if they want this thing to work, they’re going to have to keep them there for consistency sake. You cannot keep changing administrations and teachers every year and expect to have a positive change.

“So, I think the proof is in the pudding. If they would keep those faculties and staffs together and continue pumping your resources; you spent over a million dollars extra in the — there’s actually 7 failing schools in the county — and if they continue to pump that money in and monitor them, I think we’ll start to see an appreciative change.”

Joanne Lentino:

“Well, first of all, I am under the impression–and I’ve experienced this first hand–that the teachers that have been asked to leave Melrose Elementary School were very much part of the success that we saw inch up. It’s unfortunate that those people that were contributors to the little success that we saw in the school have been let go.

“I do believe that there’s a parent engagement in place; that the Key To Read, our principal at Melrose elementary school, right now is starting to implement. There’s been a reach-out to the members that were volunteers last year at Melrose–and I was one of those volunteers that was going to help to get the neighborhood involved with parent engagement. And also Pastor Rainey has started a program that I’ve been invited to participate in this month to engage parents in the solution of the schools.”

Matt Stewart:

“Education forms a problem for us: that if we want student success, we need the involvement of the schools, the parents, and the community. With our schools, I think I commend the school board for the longer school day focused on math and literacy. I think we need areas where we are not disciplining our students and sending them outside of schools. So areas like restorative justice in our schools. In times where we can better engage students with after-school clubs or make them feel more included as part of the school day.

“But, we cannot and we will not be able to be successful without the involvement of parents. And we can’t keep asking parents to come to the schools. We need to go and meet the parents, where they’re at: in the community and at houses of worship. Every parent, like myself, wants their child to succeed. But, we need to provide a boot camp to be able to help them around tutoring and how to be better engaged with our students.”

A fourth candidate for Pinellas School Board candidates for countywide District 1 did not attend the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club forum Wednesday afternoon.

There are three Pinellas County School Board seats up for grabs in this month’s election. Candidates from those three races answered questions from members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Here’s audio of the candidates answering whether early high school start times should be reconsidered (they all agreed it should) and also whether teachers should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

The only candidate to answer “yes” to allowing teachers to carry a weapon is District 5’s Mike Petruccelli. His opponents in the central-county district are incumbent Carol Cook and Eliseo Santana.

North county District 4 incumbent Ken Peluso is being challenged by Eileen Long.

Here is a map of the school board districts: http://www.votepinellas.com/Portals/Pinellas/Documents/files/Maps/2016/CC2016.pdf

Here are the current school board members: http://www.pcsb.org/domain/608

Here is video of the forum, in three parts:

This is a list of all candidates from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website:

School Board Member, District 1 – At Large     Robert J. Beal (NP)       Qualified

School Board Member, District 1 – At Large    Bill Dudley (NP)  Qualified

School Board Member, District 1 – At Large    Joanne Lentino (NP)    Qualified

School Board Member, District 1 – At Large    Alex C. Powers (NP)     Inactive

School Board Member, District 1 – At Large    Matt Stewart (NP)       Qualified

School Board Member, District 4 – Single Member  Chris Hardman (NP)          Withdrawn

School Board Member, District 4 – Single Member  Eileen Long (NP) Qualified

School Board Member, District 4 – Single Member  Anthony Maccaroni (NP)          Inactive

School Board Member, District 4 – Single Member  Ken Peluso (NP)  Qualified

School Board Member, District 5 – Single Member  Carol J. Cook (NP)        Qualified

School Board Member, District 5 – Single Member  Michael A. “Mike” Petruccelli (NP)  Qualified

School Board Member, District 5 – Single Member  Eliseo Santana (NP)     Qualified

 

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