Thursday, April 26, 2018
Education

Reaction mixed to Hernando County schools' new bell schedules

Nature Coast Technical High School freshman Alissa Augugliaro said it has been difficult waking up this week for the school's new 7:30 a.m. start time.

Especially coming from a school last year that started two hours later.

Despite the early hour, however, the 14-year-old says it's a positive change.

"I think it's better," Augugliaro said. "More people can get their volunteering hours in."

That's what she is doing, twice a week, at nearby Chocachatti Elementary.

With two days in the rearview mirror, students and parents came away with decidedly mixed reactions about the new bell times that went into effect this school year across the district.

Nine schools saw their times change by more than 30 minutes. Five changed by more than 90 minutes, and nearly every school saw some degree of change. Most high schools and middle schools are starting at either 7:15 or 7:30 a.m.; elementary and K-8 schools are starting at 9:15 a.m.

The times were changed as part of an effort to align bus routes, a move that saved the district an estimated $888,000.

Samantha Oliveira, 16, a Nature Coast junior and soccer player, said it's taken some adjusting, but it's ultimately better for her.

"I like it because we get out a lot earlier than we did last year," she said. "We're going to have earlier practices, so that means we're going to get out of here earlier, which is more time for homework and everything else."

Many other parents and students said the difference didn't phase them or have a significant impact on their schedules. Some said it didn't affect them, but they could see how other parents would have difficulties.

Some were just not fans of the change.

Isabel Chaves, a 16-year-old junior at Central High, disliked the early start last year. The extra 15 minutes this year is just that much worse.

"I don't enjoy waking up at 5 a.m., that's for sure," Chaves said. "(Last year's time) was better. I got to sleep in a bit longer."

Erick Arnett, who has a son at Nature Coast, questioned the decision to move the school times earlier.

"It's kind of ridiculous," he said.

He wondered how parents will manage the earlier end times for high school students.

"Your teenage kid is getting out of school at 2 p.m.," he said Monday afternoon as he sat in line waiting to pick up his sophomore son. "If you're a working family, your kids are home for three hours doing whatever. Or the parent has to quit their job or get a part-time job."

He also wondered whether the early start times were the best thing for teenagers, who might have trouble learning at that hour of the day.

"I thought they would push it up instead of backward," he said. "I don't know what the reasoning was."

Even with the new start times, there were relatively few problems reported across the district as the new school year got under way.

The biggest issue appeared to have cropped up at Central High School, where some parents were upset with the way the school attempted to collect outstanding student fees and uncollected textbooks.

Principal Joe Clifford attempted to collect the fees and textbooks or set up a payment plan for students with outstanding obligations before they got their class schedules Monday. Some parents felt their kids were being unfairly pointed out. Clifford said he had an obligation to taxpayers to try and collect the roughly $29,000 in fees and textbooks before the school year began.

Even with numerous recent changes to bus routes in the district, the first day was largely free of major transportation issues, said Douglas Compton, the district's transportation director.

He said a handful of buses were delayed and a few students got on the wrong bus before eventually being taken to the correct school.

Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said he was satisfied with how the start of the school year went.

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

Comments
Parents are buzzing about Pinellas’ newest magnet school

Parents are buzzing about Pinellas’ newest magnet school

ST. PETERSBURG — If the crowds that showed up for two open houses last week are any indication, the Pinellas County school district may have hit on a recipe that could finally turn around one of its most struggling schools.The two events drew more th...
Published: 04/26/18
Sheriff: Sunlake SRO who took down student 'did what he had to do'

Sheriff: Sunlake SRO who took down student 'did what he had to do'

UPDATE: The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has decided that Cpl. Richard Stackon acted properly in that incident. Sheriff Chris Nocco made that announcement at a Wednesday news conference where he also defended Stackon’s actons.   LAND O...
Published: 04/25/18
Updated: 04/26/18
Hillsborough says its teachers are well-paid; the teachers say it’s not true. Who’s right?

Hillsborough says its teachers are well-paid; the teachers say it’s not true. Who’s right?

TAMPA — Seeking to show that Hillsborough County school officials waste money that could go to teacher raises, union director Stephanie Baxter-Jenkins talked about highly paid administrators. She talked about legal fees paid to outside firms when in-...
Published: 04/25/18
Converting Ridgewood High generates excitement, dismay

Converting Ridgewood High generates excitement, dismay

NEW PORT RICHEY — Chris Dunning is a bundle of energy as he greets families to Wendell Krinn Technical High School’s first open house.He talks rapid fire about the opportunities to earn college credits and gain career training while also completing a...
Published: 04/25/18
Hernando schools superintendent ‘pink-slipped’ by public following firing of 47 teachers at Moton Elementary

Hernando schools superintendent ‘pink-slipped’ by public following firing of 47 teachers at Moton Elementary

BROOKSVILLE –– A room full of people wearing purple erupted in frustration before Hernando County school officials Tuesday night, scolding Superintendent Lori Romano for her recent firing of 47 teachers at Moton Elementary, which has been struggling ...
Published: 04/25/18
Hernando school officials deny Chehuntamo charter school on second try

Hernando school officials deny Chehuntamo charter school on second try

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board on Tuesday denied the 2019 opening of Chehuntamo Advanced Performance High School, a charter school proposed by the same group that applied once before in 2017.The team behind the school, said to be for ...
Published: 04/25/18
Hernando School Board okays second district-wide survey to evaluate superintendent

Hernando School Board okays second district-wide survey to evaluate superintendent

BROOKSVILLE — A second district-wide survey to evaluate the performance of Superintendent Lori Romano soon will go out to about 3,000 Hernando County School District employees, giving them a chance to weigh in on the job she is doing.The instrument, ...
Published: 04/25/18
Hillsborough’s Eakins gets high praise for finances, mixed reviews on other issues in his annual School Board evaluations

Hillsborough’s Eakins gets high praise for finances, mixed reviews on other issues in his annual School Board evaluations

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins is proud of his record in boosting high school graduation rates and inroads he has made in marketing the nation’s eight largest school district.His seven bosses on the School Board...
Published: 04/25/18
Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student, family apologize for racist ‘promposal’

The family of the 18-year-old Sarasota high school student under fire for the racist prom proposal he sent out on social media this weekend has publicly apologized for their son’s actions. They also said that as a result of his actions, he wil...
Published: 04/24/18
Updated: 04/25/18
SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

SRO being investigated in Pasco County for arrest of student

LAND O’LAKES — A school resource officer at Sunlake High School is under investigation after he tried to take a female student into custody on Tuesday, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.School officials asked the SRO remove the student f...
Published: 04/24/18