Friday, May 25, 2018
Education

Changes in the offing after Hernando schools receive state grades

BROOKSVILLE — Major changes are on the horizon for two of Hernando County's most troubled schools.

Hit last week with the county's first F grade, Eastside Elementary School will be high on the agenda Monday when district officials meet, said superintendent Lori Romano.

While Romano declined to discuss specifics, one thing is clear: Officials are not waiting around.

"It's going to require immediate action," the superintendent said, adding later: "Drastic times call for drastic measures."

Eastside principal Tim Urban, who took over the school last year after it received a grade of D, said the school, in the Hill 'n Dale community, has worked extremely hard with the state to improve student achievement.

"We'll continue to work hard and do those things that research says make a difference when it comes to instruction in the classroom," Urban said.

The other topic of discussion: Fox Chapel Middle School, which earned a D — its second in a row.

Because of Eastside's F and Fox Chapel's consecutive D's, both schools will now need to create and submit turnaround plans to the state in 2014, said Eric Williams, the Hernando district's director of school improvement.

If the schools maintain their current grades or regress in the coming year, they have several choices for reform. The most common is to replace at least 50 percent of their core academic staff, which includes literacy, math and science teachers, Williams said.

"We'll have a year to work really hard to get those schools out of the D and F's and have a turnaround plan in place, if needed," said Romano.

But the schools will get some help; each will be now have full-time, dedicated reading, math and science coaches.

Also, both district and state officials will be making more frequent visits to the schools, especially Eastside.

Mirroring an unprecedented decline in state-issued grades, the Hernando County School District saw roughly half of its elementary, middle school and K-8 grades drop. Seven schools maintained the same grade. Only one school, Deltona Elementary, saw a positive gain, increasing from a D to a C.

Overall, 10 district schools earned C's, three earned B's, two earned A's, one earned a D and one earned an F. The lone charter school, Gulf Coast Academy, also earned an A.

Nine schools saw their grades drop, mirroring the statewide trend. Roughly 53 percent of schools earned lower grades than a year ago across Florida.

High school grades will be released later.

Hernando's grades could have been worse.

Three elementary schools — Brooksville, Spring Hill and Pine Grove — were protected from even bigger drops by a "safety net" rule this year that prevented schools from sliding more than one letter grade. If that rule had not been in place, Brooksville would have earned a C, while Spring Hill and Pine Grove would have rated D's.

The State Board of Education imposed that provision as a buffer for schools as they cope with changing grading rules, tougher tests and a transition to the more rigorous Common Core State Standards.

Still, there was some room for hope.

Romano, who just began her job in Hernando this month, was pleased that roughly half of the county's schools stayed the same or improved.

"That's significant, given that the state didn't budge on compromised standards," she said.

She said making significant changes in the schools will take time.

Educational leaders from across Florida have frequently criticized the state's grading system, particularly the changing standards.

Romano took a measured approach.

She said the district, especially school principals, will now drill down into the numbers that comprise the grades.

While the grades are significant, she noted they're not the be-all, end-all.

"Yes, we take stock in it; yes, we use it to drive our work," she said. "But we have a lot of other factors that we use to determine the effectiveness of a school."

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

Comments
Sparks fly among Hillsborough School Board members as private messages are leaked

Sparks fly among Hillsborough School Board members as private messages are leaked

TAMPA — Somebody got into Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively’s Facebook account, copied her messages and gave them to a newspaper publisher who is a friend of her rivals on the board.The posts discussed politics and power struggl...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College student who was critically injured last weekend during an accidental fall on campus shortly before she was to graduate died today, the school announced.Rebecca Ryan "Becca" Lavin-Burgher would have graduated with a ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
A school resource officer allegedly told a gay student she would go to hell. Now he’s going away.

A school resource officer allegedly told a gay student she would go to hell. Now he’s going away.

The stares and whispers started on the first day of school more than two years ago, when Liv Funk and Hailey Smith silently declared their relationship in the halls of North Bend High School by holding hands.They knew coming out would be hard in the ...
Published: 05/24/18
What is a college’s responsibility to parents when a student is suicidal?

What is a college’s responsibility to parents when a student is suicidal?

CLINTON, N.Y. — In the days after her son Graham hanged himself in his dormitory room at Hamilton College, Gina Burton went about settling his affairs in a blur of efficiency, her grief tinged with a nagging sense that something did not add up.She fi...
Published: 05/24/18
Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County came closer on Wednesday to reaching an agreement with the school district that would give them most, but not all of the pay they expected this past year.The deal, if it happens, will end a year-long conflict t...
Published: 05/23/18
Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

NEW PORT RICHEY — The line snaked through the hallways and into the cafeteria, as the Ridgewood High faithful waited for their chance to secure a piece of the school’s 40-year history.They came by the hundreds — current and former students, staff and...
Published: 05/23/18
Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

TAMPA — The pain of the Parkland shootings Feb. 14 was fresh on the minds of Hillsborough County’s graduating seniors when about 300 of them received an assignment. Write a 250-word essay on how decades of school shootings have touched y...
Published: 05/23/18
Company in charge of Hillsborough substitute teachers weighs in on problem cases

Company in charge of Hillsborough substitute teachers weighs in on problem cases

TAMPA — The company hired by the Hillsborough County School District to fill more than 170,000 substitute teaching shifts every year is defending its record, saying it works to get to the bottom of allegations against employees, treat them fairly and...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

WEEKI WACHEE — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that she created a fake social media post threatening to shoot students at Weeki Wachee High School, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said the 16-year-old told...
Published: 05/22/18
Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union moved closer to resolving their salary dispute during Monday’s negotiating session — but stopped short of reaching an agreement.The teachers, who have spent this school year work...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18