BY DR. MICHAEL GREGO, Pinellas County Schools Superintendent
PINELLAS COUNTY — To the students, families, staff and community of Pinellas, one of my greatest joys as superintendent of Pinellas County Schools is welcoming students back to school each year. A new school year is always a time of excitement for every student across our district.
In 2018-19, our district saw monumental progress, with 89 percent of our schools maintaining or improving their school grade. Pinellas County Schools remains a B district for the fifth consecutive year, and we continue to make progress toward the goal of becoming an A district.
Additionally, every school in the Transformation Zone maintained or improved their state letter grade and four schools in St. Petersburg improved two letter grades: Bay Point, Campbell Park and Shore Acres elementary schools and Meadowlawn Middle School. We are so proud of the effort and commitment of our families, students and staff to make this possible.
Last year, Pinellas County Schools high school graduation rate rose 3.1 percentage points to 86 percent, representing the highest graduation rate in district history. The graduation rate among black students increased a landmark 6.9 percentage points to 76.2 percent.
The district’s committed efforts to the Bridging the Gap plan have increased the black graduation rate by 19.8 percentage points since 2012-13. The graduation gap between black and non-black students continues to be reduced, and the district has eliminated the gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.
Every single traditional high school in St. Petersburg improved their graduation rate, with Gibbs and Lakewood high schools improving by more than five percentage points.
In 2019-20, Pinellas County Schools will continue to build upon our success and will remain focused on innovative approaches that create opportunities for student success. Over the summer, staff completed thousands of hours in professional development training to prepare for this school year to best support our students at every grade level.
Some of the exciting areas for students to learn and grow include exploring science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities. Pinellas County Schools offers more than 260 after school STEM Academies, where students in grades 2-12 participate in engineering design challenges, robotics, coding and even explore STEM careers.
The district was recognized as a “District of Distinction” by District Administration magazine for our Personalized Learning Pathway (PLP). The PLP digital platform allows students in grades 3-12 to connect with learning resources tailored to their specific needs.
Students can see their performance on assessments, access targeted lessons, view their progress toward graduation, and keep track of their advanced coursework, industry certifications and performance on college entrance exams.
At the high school level, Elevating Excellence is an initiative that provides high-achieving high school students with a personalized path to college success. In 2019-20, Elevating Excellence will launch five College and Career Planning Centers to equip students and families with the tools to be accepted at competitive universities and thrive throughout their postsecondary careers.
Our district has so much to offer whether it be our more than 75 magnet programs, nationally recognized arts, music and athletic offerings. Throughout this special back-to-school edition, you can also explore Pinellas County Schools’ programs, including offerings in the fields of drone technology, nursing, engineering and many more. You can also learn important information about immunization requirements, dress code and registering your student.
Pinellas County Schools maintains its status as one of the top-performing urban school districts in the nation. I want to express my sincere gratitude for the families, students and community who put their trust in Pinellas County Schools. I am proud of the innovative programming and endless opportunities our district provides. We will continue to work tirelessly to support each and every student on their pathway to success.
I invite you to explore more about the district on our website at www.pcsb.org and look forward to partnering with you for another successful school year.
Michael A. Grego, Ed.D
Pinellas County Schools Superintendent