Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Education

Strategic plan plays vital role as Hernando schools prioritize spending

BROOKSVILLE — There's something different about the Hernando County School District's latest strategic plan, the all-important planning document that's supposed to provide a road map for the future.

It's not just sitting on a shelf collecting dust.

The document is playing an instrumental role in shaping the creation of next year's budget, the first under new superintendent Lori Romano and the first using a new priority-based budgeting system.

"This is the first time that the strategic plan is used, really," said Eric Williams, the district's director of school improvement. "Aligning what we do to the plan is becoming a way of life."

That's what happened at Tuesday's School Board workshop during an update to the 2012-17 plan, the first since the document was approved last January.

Previous plans had not been updated regularly to determine whether the district was, in fact, meeting its benchmarks. It was a deficiency highlighted in the district's most recent accreditation review.

The current strategic plan consists of 15 focus areas ranging from college and career preparation to school safety. There are 80 objectives that fall under those categories.

In its first year, the school district fell short in reaching many objectives, which are largely set by accountability groups.

The most glaring shortfall: the lack of progress made in closing academic proficiency gaps, Williams said.

The percentage of students making the worst scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test — a 1 or 2 on a scale of 5 — showed little movement between the baseline in 2011-12 and last year's statistics. The percentage of students from low-income families earning the lowest scores decreased slightly. Same for black and Hispanic students.

Williams said the school district needs to do more to close those gaps.

"We need to put our money where our mouth is," he said.

Williams cited the relatively poor performance of these groups of students as a reason why some schools lost points or were demoted a grade level in state school grading.

"As a district, we're not going to be an A until we address this concern with low performance of these traditionally low-performing groups," he said.

The Hernando schools earned a C in the most recent year.

The district is meeting standards in some areas and made progress in others.

One such area: literacy.

During the 2012-13 school year, 95 percent of kindergarteners met the reading standard on the Florida Assessment for Instruction in Reading, above the district's target of 85 percent. First- and second-graders also hit their targets.

Another promising number: 64 percent of students demonstrated proficiency on the Algebra I end-of-course exam, an increase of 8 percentage points.

The strategic plan will be a key tool in Romano's new priority-based budgeting system, where every program will be evaluated.

"The resources need to go to the areas where we're not making the growth," Williams said.

School Board members said they were pleased with the work that had gone into the plan and how it was being used.

"What an undertaking," said board Chairman Gus Guadagnino.

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

Comments
Sarasota student under fire over his racist ‘promposal’

Sarasota student under fire over his racist ‘promposal’

The Sarasota County School District has begun to address the community after a Riverview High School student’s racist prom proposal over the weekend went viral, including reaching out to the Sarasota chapter of the NAACP.High school senior Noah Crowl...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Battle continues over west Pasco school rezoning

Jim Stanley does not give up without a fight.The west Pasco County parent who brought down the school district’s 2017 attendance zone revisions, leading the administration to change its procedures along the way, has filed a new challenge to the syst...
Published: 04/24/18
Crews Lake eighth-grader already capable musician

Crews Lake eighth-grader already capable musician

SPRING HILL — Rose Dodd, 2 months old, couldn’t yet grasp a rattle, but there she was years ago at hand-bell choir practice at Keystone United Methodist Church in Odessa.Rose, 14, a Crews Lakes Middle School eighth-grader, is back at hand-bell practi...
Published: 04/24/18
Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

Hillsborough: No way we can afford teacher raises this year

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District is in bad financial shape and its reputation for sound management is perhaps undeserved, the district’s own fiscal team testified Monday in a hearing concerning teacher salaries.The district "made finan...
Published: 04/23/18

School news for April 27

School Calendar• May 17-20: High school graduations• May 25: Last day of school for studentsBriefs• School Safety Town Hall Meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 2 at River Ridge Middle/High, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey and 6 to 8 p....
Published: 04/23/18
A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

A Florida school shooting suspect charged with terrorism says ‘sorry’ to injured student

The young man in a white jail jumpsuit, handcuffed and shackled, looked past the throng of reporters pointing microphones toward his face, barely opening his mouth as he answered questions."I shot through the door," he said, looking at a female repor...
Published: 04/21/18
After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

After months, no action on Hillsborough’s substitute teacher problem

TAMPA — Confronted in late 2017 with reports of misconduct by substitute teachers hired through a contractor, Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins said he would ask tough questions and demand answers. He had his lawyer, Jeff Gibson, ...
Published: 04/21/18
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 Friday 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 oth...
Published: 04/20/18
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...
Published: 04/20/18
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...
Published: 04/20/18