Kindergarten ‘Round Ups’ have begun in PBC

The next school year doesn’t begin until Aug. 14, 2017, but for the parents of soon-to-be-kindergarteners it is time to get acquainted with your child’s school. ‘Tis the season of the “Kindergarten Round Ups” where your child can visit his or her school, meet teachers and the principal.

A handful of schools have already held their meet-and-greets, but the majority will host events in April and May.

Registration forms are on hand and

A school visit by Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa in 2015. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

can be completed at the school. (More than 50 elementary schools offer choice programs open to students who apply through a district-wide lottery. The application deadline for those schools has passed.)

Aren’t sure which is your neighborhood school: Enter your address here.  

For the round up schedule, go here. 

 

Some insight into the pursuit of the ‘right’ elementary school for kindergarten from last year’s archives: 

The scramble by parents to get their children in the right school was once part of a conversation about college or maybe high school, but these days it’s just as likely to be about elementary school.

The internet is rife with stories of parents tackling kindergarten choice with the mentality of an NFL recruiter, reducing options to spreadsheets and calculating moves from their child’s first play group. There is no shortage, also, of advice to parents on these quests and even research to assure them this is indeed an important decision.

One Harvard study found academic performance in kindergarten was among several factors that correlated to future earnings. The resulting headline in the Christian Science Monitor: Why Kindergarten is key to Financial Success in Life.

Choice in Palm Beach County schools began in 1989 with three magnet programs intended to integrate predominantly black schools suffering from cases of white flight. Only one of those was an elementary: S.D. Spady, a Montessori school in Delray Beach.

By 2005, the choices had grown to 13 elementary schools. And by this fall, that number hit 33 schools with more than 2,400 students vying for some 800-plus seats.

For the full story, read here. 

Avossa sums up year’s successes, challenges for community leaders

With jokes about school buses being on time firmly in the rearview, Superintendent Robert Avossa was free to boast at this year’s State of the Schools address that 21 of the county’s schools picked up their D or F grades to a C or better, the graduation rate hit an all-time high just above 82 percent and his team has made changes to the way they work with schools to continue improvements.

That’s not to say the picture is all rosy.

Most daunting, at the state’s last calculation only 52 percent of the district’s third graders read on grade level. And the majority of those who don’t aren’t in failing schools, Avossa told the gathering of about 500 business and education leaders Thursday at a West Palm Beach luncheon sponsored by the Education Foundation, the school district and the Business Development Board.

(200 students were there too. See photos below)

That makes for a long road to Avossa’s goal that 75 percent of third graders read on level within the next five years.

“You’ll see we have a lot of ground to cover,” he told the room.

To do that, Avossa said the district is using a number of strategies. Among them, the district-wide use of iReady adaptive educational software that ideally adjusts based on a student’s knowledge, meeting them at their ability and challenging them to bring them up. (The approach hasn’t been without its critics, who have spoken at board meetings about both technical frustrations and philosophical disagreements.)

(Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

Avossa talked about helping teachers and administrators at the most struggling schools with some of the district’s top former principals, each given a small portfolio of campuses to advise and mentor.

Third grade is a critical year, when a child’s performance on the state language arts test means moving on to fourth grade or being held back. Rather than focusing the best teachers and biggest efforts at each school on third grade, Avossa said he wants to see those efforts spread over the earlier years from kindergarten to second grade.

Avossa also touched on programs that guide high schoolers who are poised to be the first in their families to attend college, another that connects mentors with struggling middle school students. His administration continues to seek ways to address the disproportionate number of minority students who are suspended.

When he wasn’t talking about students, Avossa was talking about the teachers and other district employees who make change possible. He talked about the pay raises approved this year, including one that brought up the pay of 1,300 of the district’s lowest earners with an hourly income of $8 and change.

He noted that starting teacher salary in the district is up to $41,000, which is competitive, but the scales becomes stagnant leaving teachers with seven to 10 years out with not much more than their freshmen colleagues.

Before leaving the stage, Avossa asked the audience to consider ways in which they and their businesses might thank a teacher.

The fun stuff

While the presentation was all business, school district officials did spice up the presentation. A drum line (loudly) greeted attendees. More than 200 students were on hand to represent their schools and show off their culinary team, robotics accomplishments, and the like. One student navigated a drone as guests mingled before lunch. Cheerleaders flipped down the center aisle after lunch.

 

 

 

Photos by Ben Rusnak /Palm Beach County School District. 

ICYMI: Avossa gets creamed in cookoff with Dwyer students

Superintendent Robert Avossa may still be licking his wounds after culinary defeat last week at the hands of William T. Dwyer High students. Within minutes of the judges’ ruling favoring the teens, Avossa laid the groundwork for his defense, throwing his wingman in the competition under the proverbial bus:

“Pete and I fought a lot about what was going on the plate,” Avossa said.

That’s Pete Licata, director of the district’s choice and career programs.

Read the full story and see video here.   

The plating, according to judges, was just one ding on the administrative team. The other? The sauce lacked seasoning. (Ouch. Sore spot for Avossa who advised mid-stove top stir that what’s wrong with American is that they over-season their sauce. See the video.)

Avossa forwarded this pic of the competition with the note: “Do we look happy or what?”  I’d say it’s time for a photo caption contest. Thoughts?

Photo courtesy Palm Beach County School District.
Photo courtesy Palm Beach County School District.

Avossa said he is already considering another cook-off next year. Meanwhile, he continues to cook at home. “My kids love my classic tomato sauce with rigatoni. My wife likes grilled or blackened fish with grilled veggies.”

 

 

 

 

Update: Dwyer, Benjamin schools to open for class Tuesday

Update: Despite  some $500,000 to $1 million in damages from overnight storms, William T. Dwyer High will open on Tuesday, school district officials reported Monday evening. So too will the Upper School at The Benjamin School.

Read the full story that details the damages here. 

 

Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens is closed today due to storm damage. The storm tossed some metal bleachers into the road, a fence is down and sporting debris is piled against it. Buildings on campus also suffered, but officials say they are awaiting an afternoon walk-through before detailing the problems.

Expect to wait until then to learn when the school will reopen.

Meanwhile, teachers and staff are being told not to come to work because it’s unsafe. All other Palm Beach County public schools are open, though at least one other, Marsh Pointe Elementary in Palm Beach Gardens,  had some touch-and-go moments with power, district spokeswoman Julie Houston Trieste said this morning.

The Benjamin School’s upper school on Grandiflora Road is also closed due to storm damage. The lower and middle school campus remain open.

Dwyer High sits at 13601 N. Military Trail. It was built in 1990 and upgraded in 2006. In a 2016 assessment of building conditions on the district’s campuses, Dwyer was rated ‘fair’.

It is listed among the schools due to get a new roof and a long list of other repairs and replacements with money from the penny sales tax that voters approved in November.

The remains of the home team bleachers rest crumpled against a stand of pine trees at the Benjamin SchoolÕs Upper School campus in Palm Beach Gardens after the overnight storms apparently picked up bleachers from the other side of the field Monday, January 23, 2017. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)
The remains of the home team bleachers rest crumpled against a stand of pine trees at the Benjamin SchoolÕs Upper School campus in Palm Beach Gardens after the overnight storms apparently picked up bleachers from the other side of the field Monday, January 23, 2017. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

For more coverage of the storm click here.

School resumes Monday in PBC; some thoughts on what to do until then

For those of you checking your calendar, wondering when school is back in session: Students return Monday, Jan. 9, 2017.

Some district employees return a couple of days earlier: Thursday.

The next long weekend isn’t far off, however. Students and employees will have the following Monday – Jan. 16 – off for Martin Luther King Day.

jancal

 

Looking for stuff to do in the meantime? Maybe Art After Dark at the Norton Museum Thursday night or catch Ice Age: Collision Course (PG) at the Wellington Amphitheater’s Free Movie Night Friday. See a full listing of free things to do with kids during the holiday break Dec. 23 – Jan. 8, 2017 here. 

 

 

2017 PBC High School Graduation schedule is here

cap-and-diploma-533027-mDid you say that all you want for Christmas is to make it to high school graduation? You’re in luck. Palm Beach County School District has come up with the dates that those wishes will come true for about 11,500 seniors.

The graduation season will begin May 10, 2017 with the Indian Ridge students and run through May 25, 2017.  All but a handful of schools will see those seniors turn their tassels at the South Florida Fairgrounds in suburban West Palm Beach.

Those who aren’t graduating will have another week in class. The last day of the 2017 school year is Friday, June 2.

2017 Graduation Dates and Times

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

  • Indian Ridge School, 2 p.m., at Indian Ridge School

Thursday, May 11, 2017

  • Royal Palm School, 1 p.m., at Royal Palm School

Monday, May 15, 2017

  • Palm Beach Virtual School, 5 p.m., at Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

  • Village Academy, 6:00 p.m., at Plumosa School of the Arts

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

  • Riviera Beach Preparatory and Achievement Academy, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Take Stock in Children, 7 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds

Thursday, May 18, 2017

  • John I. Leonard High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Palm Beach Gardens Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • West Boca Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Pahokee High School, 7 p.m., at Pahokee High School

Friday, May 19, 2017

  • Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Adult Education, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Lake Worth Community High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds

Saturday, May 20, 2017

  • Atlantic Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Boynton Beach Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Boca Raton Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds

Monday, May 22, 2017

  • Park Vista Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Seminole Ridge Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Olympic Heights Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Royal Palm Beach Community High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

  • Jupiter Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Palm Beach Central High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Spanish River Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Glades Central Community High School, 7 p.m., at Glades Central High

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

  • Santaluces Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Forest Hill Community High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Suncoast High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • South Tech High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds

Thursday, May 25, 2017

  • Palm Beach Lakes Community High School, 8 a.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • William T. Dwyer High School, noon, at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Wellington Community High School, 4 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds
  • Inlet Grove High School, 7:30 p.m., at the South Florida Fairgrounds

 

Will Hurricane Matthew scuttle PBC school? Stay tuned

UPDATE Tuesday 2:20 p.m.: Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. Tues. Oct. 4 to address plans as Hurricane Matthew pushes up the coast. 

St. Lucie County schools have already made the call, closing on Thursday and Friday. Palm Beach Atlantic is also calling off classes those days. FAU and Lynn University have yet to announce a decision.

 

Original post Monday, Oct. 3, 2016: 

School is out Monday. But the big question is will Hurricane Matthew scuttle another day this week, and the answer is it’s too soon to tell.

The Palm Beach County School District is watching Matthew’s track and talking to the county’s emergency management officials. Should the storm generate unsafe conditions, the district will alert parents in a variety of ways including robocalls to parents, posts on the district’s website and through Twitter – follow @pbcsd – and Facebook.

Of course, we’ll be keeping tabs on this as well in Extra Credit. Palm Beach Post reporter Kim Miller, @KMillerWeather,  will keep you up to date on the big picture and what weather we can expect on her WeatherPlus blog. (While students should continue to crank out their studies, the Coast Guard is urging boaters to prepare now. )

Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 11 a.m. NHC look at Matthew.
Monday, Oct. 3, 2016 11 a.m. NHC look at Matthew.

 

 

PBLakes High video: Can your principal top these moves?

 

Update: Principal Alfonso appears to have  danced his way into a few more minutes of fame. Rumor has it that his pep rally show has landed him a spot Tuesday morning on Good Morning America. Scheduling for these things can be fluid, but it might just happen. Stay tuned.

Original post Sept. 29: Palm Beach Lakes High guidance staff have thrown down the gauntlet with the hashtag “ourprincipalisbetterthanyours”. Yup, that’s right, according to their PBLHS Facebook page, they believe their new Principal David Alfonso is better… at dancing. alfonso-mug

Their evidence, cellphone video from last week’s homecoming pep rally.

You be the judge. Do you have a principal who could do better? We’re eager to see it.

 

Royal Palm Beach High’s homecoming highlight: Halftime proposal

The Royal Palm Beach High School homecoming game last Friday night, came with an unexpected highlight for graduate Paulena Wermuth.

She thought she came to the game with her boyfriend and fellow RPBHS alum Billy Munker for moral support – she thought “he was getting an award or something.”

Nope. She was getting a proposal from her high school sweetheart.

From PBP video shot by Palm Beach Post photographer Bruce Bennett.
From PBP video shot by Palm Beach Post photographer Bruce Bennett.

 

Munker, class of 2010,  took a knee during the homecoming halftime show.

Post photographer Bruce Bennett was there.

 

Orphaned teen now Park Vista grad; Lucas Brito seeks to fulfill parents’ dream

Lucas Brito is now a high school graduate.
Lucas Brito is now a high school graduate.

The Park Vista High class of 2016 graduated Wednesday morning, and Lucas Brito was among the more than 700 to walk across that stage. He said he planned to spend the day with family, which is short two important people: His parents. They died in March.

If you haven’t read Lucas’ story, now’s a good time…

Lucas Brito lost his parents in one instant, while he was still asleep, hours before he had to be in class at Park Vista High, three months before he was due to graduate and well before he could head down a path to becoming the first in the family to earn a four-year college degree.

In that instant, when an SUV barreled through an intersection into his parents’ car in suburban Delray Beach, Lucas’ life changed.

And it didn’t.

“When I was told, I cried for literally 30 seconds and then I had to say, ‘What’s the next move?’ I wanted to get back to school immediately, but I didn’t,” said Lucas… Read more here. 

(Bonus: A video of Lucas talking about his parents accompanies that story.)

lucas diploma