Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In year of mixed results in Hernando, higher grades at Eastside, Fox Chapel are lauded

BROOKSVILLE — After being branded last year as Hernando County's first F school, Eastside Elementary administrators predicted a big improvement this year.

But even they were surprised just how well the school performed.

Last week, the school learned that it not only had shed its F, escaping costly mandates that accompany two consecutive failing grades, but also had jumped to within points of earning a B.

"To go from an F to where we are today is absolutely unheard of," said principal Mary LeDoux.

Well, not quite. But close.

Across Florida, only nine other elementary schools jumped from an F to a C this year. Four elementary schools saw a bigger jump.

In terms of total points earned, the school outperformed every other traditional Hernando elementary school. Only Chocachatti Elementary, the district's perennial A-rated magnet school, scored better.

"We're just really, really excited," said LeDoux. "To see such positive results out of such hard work was really uplifting."

LeDoux was quick to credit all of the hard work during the past year by the students, staff and faculty. She also recognized the assistance and resources she received from the district and state.

She said the marked turnaround shows why the state needs to fund public education at a higher level.

"This is a real example of how well you can do when you get those supportive pieces," she said.

Fox Chapel Middle School, which earned a D grade the past two years, was the district's other big success story. The school bumped up to a C.

The improvements at the two schools mean the district will not be forced to add an hour to their school days, part of a state-mandated turnaround that would have cost the district about $1.2 million had the grades remained the same.

Results throughout the school district were mixed this year.

Overall, seven elementary, middle and K-8 schools dropped a letter grade for the 2013-14 school year, three went up and eight stayed the same. High school grades won't be released until later.

Hernando saw four schools earn D grades, including three elementary schools and one middle school. Gulf Coast Middle, a charter in its first year, also earned a D.

District officials say the drop in grades at several of the schools was a result of instruction and progress-monitoring tests not being effectively aligned to testing standards. They aim to fix that for the coming year.

Westside Elementary and Pine Grove Elementary, which both earned D's, are two of the schools of the greatest concern. Pine Grove was just a few points from being an F school. Westside had a point total worthy of an F, but didn't drop that low because of a state rule that prevents schools from dropping multiple grade levels from year to year.

Gina Michalicka, Westside's principal for 2013-14, said the school worked hard and hopefully laid a foundation for the coming year. She said administrators put in place a new teacher training plan and brought in a math resource teacher to address one of the school's biggest weaknesses.

"Change takes time," said Michalicka, who recently moved to the district office as supervisor of elementary programs. "Sometimes you don't see it as quickly as you'd like to. I'm confident that Westside will definitely be where they need to be next year."

Hernando superintendent Lori Romano said she was pleased with the progress made at the district's struggling schools, calling the successes at Eastside and Fox Chapel "remarkable."

She said she wants to use Eastside as a model for other low-performing schools.

"We need to learn from the good work that went on there," she said.

She said administrators from the district's new D schools are attending a summer leadership academy this week, where they have been examining data, solving problems and planning for the coming school year.

Romano didn't rule out administrative changes at the struggling schools.

"We're reviewing all the data right now, and we haven't made any decisions," she said.

School Board members had mixed reactions.

"We need improvement, and I don't think there is any doubt about that," said board member Matt Foreman. "I'd be lying if I said I was anything short of disappointed when it comes to the new D's that are there."

He said he has faith in the faculty and staff to turn the schools around.

Board member John Sweeney said he was pleased with the direction of a few of the schools, but "it appears my calls to be proactive and focus on the schools that were heading the wrong way were prescient."

"We need to start acting less like the fire brigade and more like Smokey the Bear," Sweeney said.

Contact Danny Valentine at or (352) 848-1432. Follow @HernandoTimes.

Hernando County school grades

2013-14 2012-13


Brooksville C B

Chocachatti A A

Deltona C C

Eastside C F

Moton C C

Pine Grove D C

Spring Hill D C

Suncoast C B

Westside D C


Challenger A A

Explorer C C

J.D. Floyd C C

Winding Waters B C


Fox Chapel C D

Parrott D C

Powell C C

West Hernando C B


Gulf Coast Academy A A

Gulf Coast Middle D *

BEST Academy C *

* No grades

High school grades will be released at a later date

.fast facts

Hernando school grades

Pine GroveDC
Spring HillDC
J.D. FloydCC
Winding WatersBC
Fox ChapelCD
West HernandoCB
Gulf Coast AcademyAA
Gulf Coast MiddleD*
BEST AcademyC*

* No grades

High school grades will be released at a later date

In year of mixed results in Hernando, higher grades at Eastside, Fox Chapel are lauded 07/17/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 17, 2014 9:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amy Foster is running for reelection to St. Pete City Council


    Four weeks remain before the qualifying period ends for St. Petersburg’s mayoral and City Council races, but one question has been formally answered.

    Amy Foster is running for reelection.

    Amy Foster is officially running for reelection
  2. Departing fifth graders at Booker T. Washington Elementary leave lessons for their peers


    TAMPA — Teaching kindergarteners how to make slime seems like a good idea — when you're 12.

    From left, Tayvon Scott, 6, Arion Taylor, 9, and Nazir Anderson, 6, play with globs of slime they created from a science experiment taught by the Darius Troupe, a fifth-grader at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Tampa. Students at Booker T. Washington Elementary School spent a "Day of Service" teaching their peers in a class exercise on May 24, 2017. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Tampa is 15th-most popular city to move to with U-Haul


    TAMPA —Tampa is undoubtedly a destination point, at least according to U-Haul.

    Tampa is the No. 15 destination for people moving with U-Haul trucks. | Times file photo
  4. Bucs WR DeSean Jackson knows only one direction: full speed ahead


    TAMPA — DeSean Jackson is the "1."

    Actually, Jackson, the Bucs' latest weapon for quarterback Jameis Winston, with his blazing speed and game-changing splash plays, wears No. 11 in games.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  5. Karen Bail, who helped Gibbs kids get to Broadway, retires


    ST. PETERSBURG — When neatnicks retire, they leave no trace behind. Their desks are clean, like a runway after the plane has taken off.

    Retiring musical theatre teacher Karen Bail warms up seniors Jonathan O'Brien, left, as Juan Peron and Addam Setzer as Che Guevara before the dress rehearsal of Pinellas County Center for the Arts (PCCA) magnet program's production of "Evita" at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, FL,  April 24, 2017.  The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical ran for three days in April at the school and was PCCA's last play of the year. CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times