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Pasco parents turn out to talk about four-day week



About 70 Pasco County parents and school district employees came to Pasco Middle School on Thursday evening to express their general dismay with the possibility of moving to a four-day school week.

"Why is it that if everything is on the table ... have we not looked at privatizing nonessential services?" asked Jason Saenz of Land O'Lakes, suggesting that the School Board has not taken a tough look at all the other options.

Kim Cicanese, whose daughter attends Pasco Middle, worried about the notion of leaving children unattended at home on an extra day off.

"In middle school they're forming a lot of peer pressure," she said. "If we are a parent that has to go to work ... we're encouraging computer use that might not be there. ... Here comes tv time, here comes unmonitored activity at home. It's not 1942. They can't just go out and play, and in the real world they're not going to sit and read a book."

"Having sex!" one woman shouted from the back. "That's the bottom line."

Jonathan Samelton, who has children at Cox Elementary and Pasco High, blamed Gov. Rick Scott for putting the school district in a bad situation by cutting education budgets last year. But when it comes to dealing with things like child care, he said,  "it's not the school's responsibility to take care of your kids."

School Board member Steve Luikart, who led the four-day week task force, told the crowd that the four-day week is only an option, and that it isn't necessarily going to happen. He said many of the issues that parents raised will be addressed by the task force final report, but he would not provide details during the meeting.

That also frustrated parents, who said they felt like they were being asked for input without adequate information. They said they hoped to get another opportunity to speak on the matter after the final report comes out. That's expected to come in mid March.


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