Proposal: Hillsborough should stick with secular calendar
A committee of parents, teachers and school officials recommended this afternoon that Hillsborough schools stick with an "academic" calendar recognizing no religious holidays, including Good Friday.
The group was not discouraged by the mass skip day that marked Good Friday 2008, the first time in years that Hillsborough held classes on the holiday. Several members called a frenzy of media attention a big factor in keeping almost 60 percent of students at home.
"It was a media circus more than anything," said Tammy Cummings, president of the Hillsborough council of PTSA organizations. "They chose to keep their children home because of fear."
She noted that parents were worried about children standing on the street waiting for buses after 40 percent of drivers took the day off. But many later realized that they could have driven their children to school, where lessons were supposed to continue.
The calendar committee proposed doing a better job of educating families in the future that they can expect to see a normal school day on Good Friday.
The group also proposed to continue a controversial tradition of granting most students a day off to attend the Florida State Fair. Schools in east Hillsborough observe an alternate holiday to attend the Florida Strawberry Festival.
Superintendent MaryEllen Elia now has a chance to weigh in on the calendar, which ultimately will get approved by the School Board. School officials expect the board will review it early next year.