School boards to legislature: Leave our calendars alone
At their 3 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, the Hillsborough County School Board will vote on a legislative platform for the 2012 session.
First, you know it, money. With the federal stimulus program behind us, funds are scarce.
"The base student allocation is now approximately at the same level as the 2001-2002 school year, yet more programs and demands have been made on districts, schools and teachers," says the proposed platform, which comes from the Florida School Boards Association in Tallahassee.
Also of concern: The school calendar and the state's push toward virtual learning.
The association wants the state to stop telling districts they cannot start the school year more than two weeks before Labor Day. That's been the case since 2007, when concerns about employment for the tourism industry led to a law against bringing kids back in, say, July. The upshot, in Hillsborough County, is that the first semester spills over into January, which means kids spend much of winter break studying for their exams.
"Giving priority to a temporary workforce over student academic achievement will never create an internationally competitive, high-tech environment," the proposal says.
And yes, virtual.
Changes in last year's session made it possible for children to enter Florida Virtual School in kindergarten, having never enrolled a brick-and-mortar school.
That change takes them out of the oversight of the school districts in their communities. "School boards and superintendents are the constitutional officers responsible for the students within its (sic) boundaries," the proposal says.
In other words, they want that oversight back.