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Public Schools in St Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida

Buying a home in St Petersburg or Clearwater often leads to questions about the public schools here. Frequent questions from someone moving to this area are: Where’s the best school district? Which schools would my children go to if we bought this house? Logical questions, but not easy answers. All the schools in Pinellas County are managed under one school district: Pinellas County Schools. Before we get into school zoning, here are some basics:

School begins this year on August 19, 2008. Not in September after Labor Day, but on August 19th. The 2007-2008 school year is August 21, 2007 – June 3, 2008. The 2008-2009 school year is August 19, 2008 – June 2, 2009.

Schools are divided into Elementary Schools (Grades K-5), Middle Schools (Grades 6-8) and High Schools (Grades 9-12).

Students must be 5 years old on or before Sept 1 to attend kindergarten. Students must be 6 years old on or before Sept 1 to attend Grade 1. Pinellas County Schools publishes their registration requirements, which includes information you’ll need to bring, including proof of residence, proof of student’s age and medical requirements.

In 2007-2008 students were able to apply to any school within their district – 4 districts for Elementary, 3 for Middle and just 1, the entire county, for high schools. The Pinellas County School Board approved a new Student Assignment Plan for 2008-2009 which is a move to neighborhood schools, but with extensive grandfathering. It is summarized here. Maps with school assignments should be available online by early April. If you don’t like your close-to-home school that has been assigned to you, there will be an Open Enrollment Period August 4-15 when you can see which schools have available seats. These are FAQs from the Pinellas County Schools.

Here’s a page that lists all the schools and has links to each one of them.

Pinellas County also has magnet schools, fundamental schools, career academies and charter schools. One of the charter schools, relatively new, has been extremely successful, the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, which allows students to simultaneously earn high school credit and college credit through St. Petersburg College. There are two tracks – some students will graduate with some college credits, others will graduate with an associate’s degree as well as their high school degree,

During this Open Enrollment period August 4-15. 2008, “students entering for the first time or re-entering the district will be asked to go to any school to initiate the enrollment process. At that time, they will be able to see if the close-to-home school has available space or if the student needs to attend another school with available space.”

Here’s a full Directory for Magnet Programs and Fundamental Schools. Programs are available in a wide range of topics – marine science, architecture, international studies, information technology, graphic design, the arts, and more. Some of these are available at the elementary school level.

Parents of students with special needs will want to meet with the Pinellas County Schools.

The Pinellas County Schools serve a large and diverse population. They are the 23rd largest school district in the United States and serve over 150,000 students. You can get a wonderful education in our public schools – so much depends on the motivation of the student and the involvement of the parent.

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