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New law allowing for early graduation causes confusion in Hernando

BROOKSVILLE — A new state law that makes it possible for students to graduate from high school early will force some Hernando County students who are dual enrolled to bear the brunt of their community college costs.

The law is causing a good bit of confusion. But one thing it does not do is force students to graduate after they reach 24 high school credits.

Students are not being told they must graduate, and the district has never denied students access to certain classes or told them they cannot come back to school if they hit the 24-credit mark, superintendent Bryan Blavatt said.

"We're not telling them not to come back to school," Blavatt said.

There's been some confusion in the district recently as to what the new law means and how it will affect students.

"We certainly want students to continue to learn," Blavatt said.

"The situation is that once you meet the 24 credits, if you've met the right classes, you are determined to be a graduate. (Students) can come to school in their senior year and take classes. I sure don't want them to come here and waste their time."

Last session, the Florida Legislature passed House Bill 7059, and the bill took effect July 1.

The bill provides a student the option to graduate from high school early once the student has completed at least 24 credits and met standard graduation requirements, according to a staff analysis of the bill.

It eliminated the requirement that a student must attend high school for four years, Blavatt said.

The biggest impact, he said, is with students who are dual enrolled with the Pasco-Hernando Community College.

Once a student hits 24 credits, the student will have to pay tuition costs at the community college.

"They can no longer take the courses there without being considered a (high school) graduate," Blavatt said. "It's making it more difficult for these students."

In response, Nature Coast Technical High School has moved from a seven-course day to a six-course day, which should slow the process of students reaching 24 credits.

Blavatt said students will not be getting less education.

"It's still the same educational day," he said, noting that the courses will be longer.

Blavatt said the move will primarily affect seniors, who haven't had much time to tweak their schedules.

The issue is expected to be discussed tonight when the Hernando School Board meets. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 919 N Broad St., Brooksville.

Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432.

New law allowing for early graduation causes confusion in Hernando 08/13/12 [Last modified: Monday, August 13, 2012 8:44pm]
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