Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Education

Pasco School Board rejects four-day school week

LAND O'LAKES — The four-day week idea is dead for Pasco County schools.

Pasco County School Board members unanimously panned the concept during a Tuesday afternoon workshop, saying they saw few benefits in it.

"I personally don't see positives for students, parents, staff and community," chairwoman Joanne Hurley said. "I had to see real positives in addition to budget savings."

Task force chairman Steve Luikart said his panel, which met several times since September, projected that a four-day week would generate about $6.6 million in savings — more than the administration had estimated, but not enough to cover the district's anticipated budget shortfall.

Hurley said she saw a school district already facing multiple major challenges, such as new testing and teacher evaluations, with a limited appetite to tackle another major change. The added childcare costs for parents offered another detriment, she said.

"To my way of thinking, the timing of this, for a district of our size and with the challenges we already have, is not optimum," she said. "I just think it would be too much."

The others agreed.

"Think about children who are hurting, who look to the schools for stability," board vice chairwoman Cynthia Armstrong said.

They come for the warm meal, the daily routine, the safe environment, she said.

"Doing away with that fifth day is really going to hurt the students that most need us," Armstrong said. "You can put numbers and dollars on it, but you have to remember what we are here for. We are here to provide for the students."

Board member Alison Crumbley, meanwhile, talked about the academic issues raised by the concept.

She lumped the idea in with the district's past calendar initiatives, including double sessions and the 45-15 schedule from the mid-1970s, when students attended class for nine weeks, then were off for three, allowing for year-round use of the school buildings.

"I felt like it affected my experience in high school, not positively," Crumbley said. "I have to see more evidence on student achievement."

More intriguing to the board members were the savings ideas listed in the back of the task force report, ones that have no connection to the four-day week.

"I want to study the additional cost savings in it," board member Allen Altman said. "Right now I think we've got some useful information we can take to save additional dollars."

Those ideas included powering down vending machines ($140,658 per year); adding motion sensors to cut off classroom lights ($603,428 per year); and reducing idling time for buses ($122,376 per year).

Luikart said the task force had no position on whether the board should adopt the four-day week. He stressed that the main goal was to provide the best available information so the board could make a valid decision.

The top priority, he said, was "to save student programs … and to save teachers' jobs."

He remained hopeful that the district would find ways to do that while cutting about $26 million in spending and adding about $6 million in teacher salaries to meet class size requirements.

The board plans to begin budget workshops in May.

Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook.

Comments
Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is ‘Feminism’

NEW YORK — This may or may not come as a surprise: Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017 is "feminism." Yes, it’s been a big year or two or 100 for the word. In 2017, lookups for feminism increased 70 percent over 2016 on Mer...
Published: 12/12/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot i...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

Why do universities handle sexual assault cases, anyway?

News stories about campus sexual assault often get the question, "Why do schools handle these cases, anyway?"Readers often wonder how universities got tasked with handling these convoluted cases in the first place. Where, they ask, do the police come...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17