Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014
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Pinellas takes over failing Gulf Coast Academy

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— The Pinellas County school district will take over a failing charter school in time for the start of the next school year, but that won’t change school leadership.

Bonnie Solinsky, principal of the failing Gulf Coast Academy of Pinellas County charter school, will remain in her role when the school district takes over the school. School board members voted Tuesday to rename the school Pinellas Gulf Coast Academy.

The Largo charter school, meant to serve students at risk of dropping out, enrolled 344 high school students last school year, a majority of whom were older than 17. The graduation rate last school year was only 7 percent.

Students can register for the school starting today.

Solinsky took the head position at the charter school in 2012, chosen over 10 other applicants to retain her position. She began her education career in 1986 as a staff development facilitator, magnet school coordinator and teacher with Syracuse, N.Y,, public schools.

She also has worked as an administrator at Sacred Heart School in Georgia, a founding administrator at Espiritu Santo Catholic School in Safety Harbor and White Hat Management in Ohio; and director of curriculum, chief operating officer and director of charters for Mavericks in Education in West Palm Beach.

The school district hopes to enroll 525 students at the school the first year and will offer classes in three shifts — 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Currently, 254 students are enrolled.

The school district also ushered in a slew of new hires at the meeting.

Tarpon Springs High Principal Clint Herbic was hired as associate superintendent for operational services. Herbic replaces Michael Bessette, who is retiring. Bessette has worked in the school district since 1974 and was associate superintendent since 2008.

Herbic has led Tarpon Springs High since 2009, and was chosen over 23 other applicants for the position. He has worked in Pinellas schools since 1988.

Kristina P. Bauman, assistant principal at Madeira Beach Fundamental K-8 School, was named principal of Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary in St. Petersburg. Bauman has worked in Pinellas schools since 2000. Carrie Johnson, assistant principal at Harllee Middle School in Manatee County, was named principal of 74th Street Elementary effective July 14. Johnson has worked in education since 2002 and takes over for Garyn Boyd, who will lead the new King’s Highway Elementary in Clearwater.

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