Friday, April 20, 2018
Education

Pasco School Board member questions student-athlete transfer policy

LAND O'LAKES — Pasco County's student-athlete transfer policy has come under fire from one of its own School Board members.

Board Vice Chairman Steve Luikart blasted the year-old rule on Tuesday as unfair, inconsistent and punitive. Bolstered by the plight of one of his former students, whose children were denied the right to participate in sports at Ridgewood High, Luikart called on his colleagues to revamp the rules.

"I think we had great intentions as a board," Luikart said during a workshop. "Now I think there are some corrections we need to make."

District officials suggested the policy, which requires all students switching high schools to apply for permission to play sports or face sitting out a year, has worked as intended.

Since the policy was put in place, no schools received fines or had games or titles rescinded for allowing students to play who should not have. In the past, schools including Land O'Lakes High and Wiregrass Ranch High have been penalized for infractions, noted Ray Bonti, executive director for operations, who oversees the policy.

"Do we want to hurt any kids? Of course not," Bonti said. "But any time this happened … it was a black eye to the program, to the school, to the district, because we didn't know what we were doing, who we were putting on our teams."

District athletic director Phil Bell noted that the county heard 184 appeals to the participation policy and granted 94 percent.

"I think what you asked it to do, it has done," Bell said.

Luikart looked to Florida High School Athletic Association officials in attendance to seek guidance on whether its eligibility rulings should govern student participation.

FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing withheld judgment on Pasco's policy, though he noted it has been upheld in court cases. He reminded the board it must think globally, considering all student-athletes and not just the ones making appeals.

"It's very easy to get the empathy of everybody who wants Johnny to play," Dearing said.

But Johnny doesn't just play for the local school. He plays in a district, might compete for state titles, and all the other athletes deserve equal treatment, Dearing said.

"You want to make sure all your students play on a level field," Dearing said.

Luikart made a motion to suspend the policy until it could be reworked, but failed to draw a second. The board set the issue for another workshop in two weeks.

Comments
Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

Official: Shotgun in guitar case was used in school shooting

FORT LAUDERDALE — A gunman who carried a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire Friday in a Florida high school, wounding one student before he was arrested on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence, authorities said. It...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Tuesday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining ot...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

Eakins: New ‘achievement zone’ would lift struggling schools

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins is preparing to reorganize his cabinet — for the third time since 2015 — in an effort to coordinate programs at the district’s highest-needs schools.In an interview this week, Eakins descr...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

Today: Area high school students to join national walkout in memory of Columbine

High school students from both sides of Tampa Bay will commemorate the anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings on Friday, although in very different ways. In St. Petersburg, students from several schools will gather at noon at City Hall f...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teachers’ aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer...
Published: 04/19/18
Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

Pinellas to enlist Sandy Hook group in its quest for safer schools

LARGO — Starting soon, Pinellas County public schools could be using a nationwide violence prevention program founded by families of those killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in December 2012.The nonprofit group Sandy Hook Promise, with ...
Published: 04/19/18

Hillsborough targets bilingual teachers’ aides in latest school cuts

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District, with a large and growing population of children from foreign cultures, is reducing the ranks of teacher aides who help them master the English language.Next year’s workforce will have about 164 fewer p...
Published: 04/18/18
After Parkland, these students became activists. Will their movement last?

After Parkland, these students became activists. Will their movement last?

TAMPA — Sam Sharf’s parents thought he had the best position on the Plant High School football team. As back-up quarterback, he could impress the girls but rarely played enough to get hurt.Now a junior, Sharf is off the team so he can focus his energ...
Published: 04/18/18

Gannon University’s Ruskin growth includes $21 million addition

RUSKIN — Gannon University is experiencing some serious growing pains and as a result, SouthShore is going to see a big change in the landscape. When it opened its doors in 2015 as a satellite campus for its home school in Erie, Pa., Gannon occupied ...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Enrollment growth anticipated for Pasco County charter schools, with two more to open in the fall

Most of Pasco County’s more established charter schools expect to see their student population remain stable in 2018-19.Even so, enrollment in the county’s charter schools is expected to grow by about 1,100 children — or nearly 25 percent — in the fa...
Published: 04/17/18