Thursday, November 23, 2017
Education

Procedural issue delays Hernando School Board's reconsideration of impact fees

RECOMMENDED READING


BROOKSVILLE — Look no further than Tuesday night's Hernando County School Board meeting to see just how controversial impact fees have become in the county.

The issue nearly derailed the entire meeting.

Board members initially were slated to vote on a measure to pay for an educational facilities impact fee study — something that is needed to determine the appropriate fees.

The one-time levies on new construction help offset the cost of future growth, but are currently suspended. Hernando County commissioners have made it clear they won't bring back the education fee without a new study.

But last week, the item was removed from the School Board's agenda.

Some board members were not happy.

"As a matter of business," said board member John Sweeney, "I would like greater notification the next time something is going to be removed of this importance."

Here's what happened:

After seeing the agenda, chairman Matt Foreman asked superintendent Bryan Blavatt to remove the item because the School Board had already voted on the funding issue at its December meeting.

At that meeting, the board tied 2-2, and therefore did not provide funding for the study. Board member Cynthia Moore, who supports impact fees, was absent.

Foreman and vice chairman Gus Guadagnino both voted against funding the study.

As a result of the vote, Foreman said, it was inappropriate for Blavatt to be the one to put it back on the agenda.

Blavatt agreed.

"They voted 2-2, and it was rejected to do the study," he said. "For me to have the agenda item back on the January agenda was my mistake."

Foreman, after consulting with the board's attorney, said a board member will have to make a motion during a meeting to bring the item back before the board. It would then appear on the follow meeting's agenda, he said.

Because no board member made that motion Tuesday, he said it will not appear on board's next agenda on Feb. 5.

"It just needs to be done appropriately," Foreman said. "I just want things done right."

Tuesday's delay didn't go over well with other board members.

"Each day is precious here," said board member Dianne Bonfield. "It is very important, in my opinion, that we move forward as quickly as possible with a full board."

Sweeney was more blunt, saying, "My point is let's not play politics with this."

Foreman said he wasn't.

"The information is going to be presented," he said. "There's just a matter of procedure that has to be followed. I'm a little bit of a stickler for it, as the superintendent will tell you."

The issue came to a head when board members were asked to approve Tuesday night's agenda, a formality that normally takes only a few seconds.

At first, there weren't enough votes to bring it to a vote.

The small crowd on hand murmured.

The agenda was then voted down 3-2.

"If nobody wants to have a meeting, I guess we can come back in a couple of weeks and come back and do this again," Foreman said.

Sweeney responded: "I think that's a pretty big leap," he said. "Of course we're here; we wanted a meeting. We just don't want to have agendas revised and changed without our notification."

Eventually, the agenda was approved 4-1.

"I don't mean to make this a contentious issue, and I don't mean to make it so we don't have the rest of the board meeting because there are items on here that are very important," Bonfield said. "But also, in my opinion, it's very important that we go ahead with the study."

She cited the roughly $1 million in revenue the district has lost since impact fees have been suspended or discounted for the past three years.

She said not having the impact fee money is not in the best interest of schoolchildren.

"To me, the best interests of the children of this county are never to be educated in classrooms with close to 40 kids in them and two teachers," she said. "Never again. And that's what we could be looking at down the line if we don't do everything we can at this point in time to make certain that our capital funds remain healthy."

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

Comments
Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco schools brought home 20 top honors from the District 11 Junior Thespian Festival, which included 22 schools from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties and took place at the new River Ridge FAME Academy on Nov. 17 and ...
Published: 11/22/17
A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

A year after impasse, Pasco school contract talks run more smoothly

LAND O’LAKES — Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco sat together several times in the weeks leading to Thanksgiving break, trading contract proposals amid (mostly) amicable conversation.They c...
Published: 11/22/17
Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

Epilogue: Music professor Rita Osborn insisted that her students experience the arts live

The thousands of students who signed up for Rita Osborn’s music and humanities classes at St. Petersburg Junior College knew what they had to do to pass.They could study and memorize material for tests, but they wouldn’t earn more than a C if they di...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
USF professors honored as AAAS Fellows

USF professors honored as AAAS Fellows

Six University of South Florida professors whose research efforts span biology, engineering, chemistry and business have been selected as Fellows to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the organization announced Nov. 20.Election ...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17
When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

When school is out, a Pinellas camp for autistic kids offers a much-needed service

ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Wiseman’s cell phone rings at least once a week, usually after 9 p.m., with a call from a desperate parent. The voice on the line is tired, defeated. Once again, their child was excluded from an after-school program or summer ca...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

University of Central Florida suspends sorority for hazing

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A University of Central Florida sorority has been suspended after its members were accused of hazing, underage drinking and providing false information to law enforcement.The university placed Alpha Xi Delta on an interim suspens...
Published: 11/21/17
10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

10 African-Americans named Rhodes scholars, most ever

Associated PressThe latest group of U.S. Rhodes scholars includes 10 African-Americans — the most ever in a single Rhodes class — as well as a transgender man and four students from colleges that had never had received the honor before. The Rhodes Tr...
Published: 11/19/17

Class notes

School Calendar• Nov. 27: School resumes after Thanksgiving break• Dec. 22: End of second grading quarter.• Dec. 23-Jan. 7: Winter Break.• Jan. 8: Teacher planning day. No school for students.Arts/Music/TheaterCenter for the Arts at River Ridge Middl...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

Pasco’s 2018 Outstanding Senior hails from River Ridge High

River Ridge High School senior Connor Beckman has been named Pasco County’s 2018 Outstanding Senior.Commander of the school’s Air Force JROTC program, Beckman is also an Eagle Scout mentor, National Honor Society president and swim team captain.Beckm...
Published: 11/22/17
Pinellas education news: District honors support employees, Discovery Nights resume, and more

Pinellas education news: District honors support employees, Discovery Nights resume, and more

Pinellas names top support employeesFive finalists have emerged from 120 nominees to be the 2017-18 Support Employee of the Year in the Pinellas County school system. The finalists were chosen in five categories. Debra Canning, 21st Century iClass Li...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17