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Should public schools take off on Good Friday? Pasco officials revisit the issue today

School districts have gone back and forth over the years when it comes to scheduling classes on Good Friday. In this photo from 2008, a Bloomingdale High classroom that normally had 24 students was empty because students stayed home for the observance. Pasco County deals with the issue today at a School Board workshop. [SKIP O'ROURKE   | Times]

School districts have gone back and forth over the years when it comes to scheduling classes on Good Friday. In this photo from 2008, a Bloomingdale High classroom that normally had 24 students was empty because students stayed home for the observance. Pasco County deals with the issue today at a School Board workshop. [SKIP O'ROURKE | Times]

LAND O'LAKES — After heated criticism over its decision to hold classes on Good Friday, the Pasco County School Board plans to debate Tuesday morning whether it wants a repeat performance.

Both student and employee absenteeism rose on the holiday, which about half of all Florida school districts observed with a day off. But superintendent Kurt Browning has not shown any indication that the schools were unable to operate adequately, a factor that he said would guide his decision whether to recommend changing the 2017-18 student calendar.

Browning so far has insisted that the calendar be based on academic needs and not religious ones.

"There is no other religious holiday this district observes," Browning said.

His preference so far has been to alert schools to holidays, and then excuse students who do not attend classes in order to attend services or otherwise mark the days important to their faith.

Board members have said they want to hear the administration's rationale for setting days off, including any state requirements that districts must follow. If they intend to alter the 2017-18 calendar, they said they would act quickly because some families and employees have already begun making plans based on the one adopted in November. That calendar lists no day off for Good Friday, which will be on March 30, 2018.

The board will have a workshop on the issues in its Land O'Lakes headquarters after its regularly scheduled business meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Visit tampabay.com for updates.

Contact Jeffrey S. Solochek at (813) 909-4614 or [email protected] Follow @jeffsolochek.

Should public schools take off on Good Friday? Pasco officials revisit the issue today 05/02/17 [Last modified: Monday, May 1, 2017 7:41pm]
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