Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando schools cut next year's work force by 200

BROOKSVILLE — A divided Hernando County School Board slashed more than 200 jobs Monday night from the district's 3,145-person work force for next fall.

Faced with a widening budget gap, district officials said trimming those positions in its staffing plan was a safer move than any of the alternatives.

"If this is not approved," said business services director Heather Martin, "this board would reappoint people to positions we're not able to fund. We (would) have to do a reduction in force over the summer. And not just teachers, other employees as well."

Members John Sweeney and James Yant disagreed, saying they shouldn't vote to eliminate jobs until all other options had been exhausted.

"People will stop spending," Yant said, warning of the impact on the broader economy. "We're in an economic spiral, and it just gets worse and worse."

Among the proposed $16 million in reductions from the district's $159 million operating budget are 129 classroom teaching positions, plus about 70 teachers who work in supporting roles. Other positions include six from the central office staff, five in maintenance and four in the adult education program.

The district is projecting neutral enrollment growth in the coming year, so the loss of teachers would raise average class sizes by two or three students at every grade level.

All of those changes must be ratified by board votes during the budgeting process this spring, and can be reversed "if there's a miracle and we have extra money," Martin said. Officials hope the normal cycle of retirements and resignations can open up enough jobs to prevent layoffs.

Sweeney said the district needs to make sure seniority rules don't protect "underperforming" teachers at the expense of better ones.

"If we are going to be left with fewer teachers, we need to be left with the best," he said.

Other board members said the state funding shortfall is too immense to permit further delay.

"Even if we were able to cut the transportation budget, that's jobs, too," said Sandra Nicholson, who joined the three-member majority in approving the cuts. "The only other option is we run out of money and we just stop (functioning), and then nobody's helped."

Superintendent Wayne Alexander has warned that even $16 million might not be enough, and that a $25 million reduction is possible.

Further budget cuts — such as a proposed 5 percent across-the-board pay cut, worth $5.1 million — are subject to negotiations with teacher and staff unions.

Don't expect to find much fat in central administration, according to Alexander. He said he eliminated two administrative jobs when he arrived, reduced the human resources staff last year, and is trimming six or seven additional positions this spring.

"What I inherited is pretty thin," Alexander said, describing staffing levels. "Everyone is suffering the pain."

Tom Marshall can be reached at or (352) 848-1431.


Switch to uniforms is again put on hold

A change to the Hernando school dress code has once again been postponed.

School Board members had been prepared Tuesday to consider a new policy that would have standardized dress codes in kindergarten through eighth grade next fall, with a pilot program for upper grades at Springstead High School.

The changes would have meant collared shirts, slacks and skirts for students at schools without existing uniform policies.

A similar plan was tabled last summer. On Tuesday, members agreed to postpone further changes to the district's existing dress code after some voiced concerns about putting an extra financial burden on parents during hard economic times.

"With so much going on right now, I would like to recommend to the board that we just kind of put this on hold," said superintendent Wayne Alexander.

Times staff writer

Hernando schools cut next year's work force by 200 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  2. In Florida, nation's only lightning center closes after DARPA cuts funding


    University of Florida professor Martin Uman usually spends much of this summer at an old Army base about an hour northeast of Gainesville, shooting rockets at thunderclouds, then measuring the bright flashes of lightning that followed.

    Rocket-and-wire triggered lightning at the University of Florida's International Center for Lightning Research and Testing, which recently lost federal funding. A rocket trailing a grounded wire is launched toward an active thunderstorm at the ICLRT. One launch is from a tower, one from ground. When the wire is about as high as the Empire State Building, lightning is induced to strike the top of the wire, much as it strikes tall objects like the ESB. Interestingly, the cloud charge source is about 3 miles high, so a 300 yard-long wire can cause a 3 mile or more long lightning.  After that, there are several normal tortuous strokes ( downward leaders from the cloud charge/upward return strokes) which can be seen as the wind blows the individual strokes to the right. The time between strokes is about 50 thousands of a second. Between some strokes, continuing current can be seen. Continuing current is what generally starts forest fires. [Photo by Dr. Dustin Hill]
  3. Editorial: Reasonable clarity on gambling in Florida


    Gambling expansion strategies — and misfires — are nearly an annual ritual in Florida. There were the eight counties that voted to allow slot machines but were blocked by the Florida Supreme Court. There was the governor's $3 billion deal with the Seminole Tribe in 2015 that was never approved by the …

    Gov. Rick Scott agreed to a much simpler deal with the Seminole Tribe that embraces the status quo instead of expansion. And that’s a good thing.
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Editorial: Hillsborough smartly embraces diversion program for youths


    Children who commit minor crimes can pay for their mistakes for a lifetime — losing a chance to attend college, join the military or obtain credit and a good job. That is unjust to the individuals and a burdensome cost to society, and Hillsborough County is taking the right new approach by giving some juveniles a …

    Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren has announced an agreement between law enforcement agencies and the courts that will allow first-time offenders who commit nonviolent crimes as juveniles to be issued civil citations rather than face an arrest and prosecution.