Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Education

More parents using before-, after-school care in Hernando because of new bell times

SPRING HILL — Bright backpacks were piled high as dozens of kids fanned across the cafeteria Thursday morning. Board games covered tabletops. High-pitched voices filled the room.

It was busier than usual at the YMCA's before-school program at Deltona Elementary. With roughly 85 children now enrolled, the program has seen about a 15 percent increase from last year.

The biggest reason: the Hernando school system's new — and in many cases later — bell times.

That's the case across the district.

A week into the new school year, before- and after-school programs in all of the district's elementary, K-8 and middle schools are seeing a spike in participation.

"(Parents) can no longer drop their kids at school because they already need to be at work themselves," said Josh Kelly, president of the Boys & Girls Club of Hernando County.

The Boys and Girls Club has seen a jump of about 180 students at its six before-school programs, Kelly said. That's about a 30 percent increase, he said. The after-school programs haven't seen a similar bump.

At Westside Elementary, which moved its start time 90 minutes later this year, the program went from 30 kids last year to 74, Kelly said.

The Y has seen a jump of about 100 students, or a 15 percent increase, spread more evenly across its before- and after-school programs, located in 14 district schools.

"It's been quite busy," said Tammy Brinker, the executive director of the Y's school-age programs. "We're still getting new kids each day.

Four elementary schools moved back their start and end times by 11/2 hours. Chocachatti moved its start time back 30 minutes. Others didn't change or had only minor changes. The changes at the K-8 schools ranged from 10 minutes at Challenger to 40 minutes at Winding Waters.

While some parents have complained about the new times, Kelly said, most understood why the district made the changes. The new bell times allowed the district to change bus routes, saving $880,000.

Jennifer Byrne, who has a son at Deltona and a daughter at Spring Hill Elementary, said the new school times are a challenge and that she's had to enroll her son in the Y program as a result.

"They have to be at two schools at the same time," she said. "It's kind of difficult."

Eileen Mastandrea also said she's enrolled her first-grader at Deltona's Y program because of the time change.

"My husband and I both work," she said.

She said it really hasn't posed a problem, however.

"I'm happier that (school) is later for the simple reason that I hated seeing kindergartners walking along the side of Deltona (Boulevard) with no sidewalks," she said

Mastandrea said the Y program was the best bet for her daughter.

"She is not within the bus route. We would have to arrange to drive her to and from school even on the days that we work. That's pretty difficult for working parents."

Not only has the Y seen a spike in attendance, it's also seen a jump in the number of scholarships it is giving out to families who cannot afford the fee of $40 to $53 a week.

"We do definitely have a huge increase," Brinker said.

She said that roughly 70 percent of students now qualify for assistance.

Last year, the Y gave out roughly $100,000 more than expected. This year, she anticipates the organization will give out even more.

Kelly said the need for scholarships at the Boys and Girls Club also has increased in line with the higher attendance numbers.

Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432.

Comments
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

School board member is ‘dumbfounded’ by Times report on Hillsborough substitute teachers

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District should reconsider how it hires substitute teachers, and that conversation should happen publicly, School Board member Lynn Gray said Tuesday.Responding to a Tampa Bay Times article published Sunday , G...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Pasco class notes for Jan. 19

Theatre/Art/MusicCenter for the Arts at River Ridge, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey. (727) 774-7382.• The center’s Learn it Live! series presents The Three Little Pigs, at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 24- 25. Pre-K – grade 4. Public show at 11 a.m. Jan. ...
Published: 01/16/18
Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Bill to sweeten Bright Futures scholarship sails through Senate

Nearly a decade since the luster on Florida’s signature merit scholarship program began to grow dim, state lawmakers have taken a decisive step toward restoring its appeal. Just three days into the 2018 Legislative session, the Florida Senate ...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
Parents vent at school district meeting over fate of Lee Elementary School

Parents vent at school district meeting over fate of Lee Elementary School

TAMPA — Leaders of the Hillsborough County School District tried Thursday to reassure parents they are doing their best for the displaced students of Lee Elementary School, who lost their school in a September fire. To some, it was a hard sell...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18
UF fraternity suspended until 2021

UF fraternity suspended until 2021

The University of Florida becomes the latest school to suspend a fraternity for alleged incidents involving alcohol and drug use. In December, Heather White, UF’s interim dean of students, sent the university’s chapter of Tau Epsilon Phi...
Published: 01/11/18
Napping, name-calling and stealing: Who’s subbing for your kids’ teachers in Hillsborough?

Napping, name-calling and stealing: Who’s subbing for your kids’ teachers in Hillsborough?

TAMPA — Kenneth Spain told his students at Chamberlain High School that he overcame a pornography addiction when he found Jesus. Pornography and Jesus are both taboo topics for public school teachers, so this became a case for the Hillsborough...
Published: 01/11/18
Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

Will Florida bring back full tuition breaks for college? State senators weigh in today

A bill that would permanently expand state financial aid for tens of thousands of Florida college students faces a key vote today in the state Senate.The "Florida Excellence in Higher Education Act of 2018," also known as Senate Bill 4, recently sail...
Published: 01/11/18

Pasco school board election ballot fills

One Pasco County School Board incumbent has decided not to pursue another term, while two others have announced their 2018 reelection bids.Steve Luikart, often a dissenting voice on some of the board’s more contentious issues, said Wednesday he will ...
Published: 01/11/18