Gulfport Principal Sees Bright Side

Gulfport Elementary was recently named a “turnaround” school by the state after receiving three ‘D’ grades in a row, but principal James Pribble hopes it will work out in the school’s favor.

“I hope it means we will get extra support,” Pribble said Tuesday, April 12. “I’m hoping, but not sure yet, that it will mean a full-time reading coach, math coach and social worker.”

Despite its possible benefits, Pribble admits the recent designation came as a surprise.

“We didn’t see it coming,” he said. “But looking at the rules of the state, we fit.”

Pribble also said that he expected this year to be a quiet year, despite the three-peat of a D rating, but the state saw it differently, and has added Gulfport Elementary to the list of schools in need of help.

Fortunately, Gulfport Elementary has not been lumped in with what the Tampa Bay Times referred to as “failure factories” in their series about failing St. Petersburg schools. According to Pribble, “turnaround schools” are grouped into different tiers with different levels of support and Gulfport Elementary’s situation is not being treated as dire.

But there are some consequences. Teachers and administration will now face a re-interviewing process to determine if they will stay with Gulfport Elementary next year. Teachers and staff have until this Friday at noon to make a decision to re-interview or opt out. Opting out, according to Pribble, guarantees the teacher a job at a different school somewhere in the district.

But Pribble is looking forward to the perks of the added assistance. Teachers will be given a $3,000 bonus for remaining at the school. They will also receive added training hours, which are paid.

Pribble hopes that he can remain at the school himself, citing his love for the students and community.

“I’m blessed,” Pribble said. “Gulfport is a perfect fit for me. But it’s not for me to decide.”

Pribble is also very optimistic about the outcome of the situation.

“It took a lot of people by surprise, but we’re going to be alright,” he said. “A lot of teachers will want to work with our students. And with Gulfport behind us, there isn’t anyway it can’t work out.”


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