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Back to school: District adds programs, courses

Veronica Brezina

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Image: Unsplash/Kenny Eliason.

As students hustle to stuff their backpacks with new supplies and books for the first day of school, parents should expect to see some significant changes. 

During a Tuesday workshop presentation, Pinellas County School District leaders presented the additions to the agenda for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, which starts Aug. 10. 

The PCSD is the seventh largest school district in Florida. Over 104,000 students and 150 schools and education centers are in the district. 

A highlight of the new changes and additions: 

  • Focus on innovation: There will be an emphasis on leveraging more student academic competition opportunities. The agenda lists examples such as spelling bees and robotics/coding competitions. Artificial intelligence and 3D programs will be offered at Lakewood High School. An emerging technologies study program will open at Boca Ciega High School.
  • Free VPK access: The district will offer free all-day VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) schooling for students of families eligible for free or reduced lunch. All of the students of full-time PCSD employees will also be eligible. 
  • Athletics expansion: Middle school athletics will include girls’ and boys’ cross country programming. A bowling program will expand to all 16 high schools. 
  • Cambridge AICE courses: The Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Diploma courses will be available in all middle schools throughout the district. Marine Studies AICE courses will be added to nine high schools. Additionally, the TB12 initiative, a new physical education curriculum created by football star Tom Brady, will be available in all middle and high schools.
  • Medical courses: A pre-medical academy will open at Palm Harbor Middle School. A nursing dual-enrollment program will open at Boca Ciega High School and Palm Harbor University High School.
  • Meeting workforce demands: The district will strengthen its existing relationship with St. Petersburg College to identify new technical and career programming. 
  • Expansion of PATHS: The district will expand the PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) program to help identify and work with students suffering from anxiety, depression and school phobias. As part of the overall mental health focus, the district will have full-time school psychologists and social workers. 
  • Communication/hiring staff: There will be a new employee online onboarding program and survey to collect feedback on the staff’s experiences. 
  • New summit: The district will host a Black Male Leadership Summit. The agenda item didn’t describe the details of the summit. 
  • New projects: The district is expected to start the design and construction of the Leadership Professional Development Center at Sandy Lane Elementary School and Seminole High School. The redevelopment of the Tomlinson Adult Education Center will also take shape. The 99-year-old Tomlinson building will be converted into attainable workforce housing for teachers and staff. 
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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    July 20, 2023at6:45 pm

    An aggressive Agenda, I hope that it is successful

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