Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Superintendent denies he banned holiday parties in Hernando schools

BROOKSVILLE — To hear some tell it, Hernando schools superintendent Bryan Blavatt was setting himself up for a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

Blavatt the "scrooge," as one anonymous caller to the St. Petersburg Times put it, had "effectively taken away Christmas from our children" by banning holiday parties. Blavatt's office received similar calls.

The consternation arose this month after Blavatt directed principals to ensure that no parties were held during class time. The goal, he said, was to remind teachers to preserve precious teaching time.

Challenger K-8 principal Sue Stoops wrote as much in an email to fellow elementary principals after an executive team meeting with Blavatt.

"Per Mr. Blavatt's directions this morning, there are to be no classroom parties or festivities during instructional time from now until the winter break," Stoops wrote. "He said if these are allowed, principals will be held responsible."

Word apparently started to spread, however, that Blavatt was forbidding any type of holiday event, during any part of the day, with a ban on food and gift exchanges.

Not true, the superintendent told the Times.

"That doesn't mean you can't have multicultural events, or something that has learning value," he said. "I just don't want it to be just a party. If you're going to focus on what's best for students, then you have to do what we're trained to do, and that's teach them."

Still, Blavatt issued a clarification emphasizing that holiday celebrations can be held during lunch, recess and other noninstructional times of the day.

He acknowledged that bringing food into the classroom "is not my favorite thing," but it's not banned. "I'm not going to take away sugar cookies, but there should be a teachable moment with it," he said.

The directive will cause adjustments at some schools.

At Challenger, for example, some teachers have traditionally set aside time for holiday parties, sometimes inviting parents, Stoops said.

"There are times where it's just a celebration, but it doesn't take the whole day by any means, and I wouldn't want it to," Stoop said.

Blavatt said he was especially concerned about middle and high school teachers giving exams and then coasting for a day or more.

He doesn't have to worry about that at Springstead High, said principal Susan Duval. "We don't encourage parties at this school to begin with," Duval said. "If a teacher wants to bring in drinks or chips after an exam is over, I'm not going to clamp down on that."

Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or Find him on Facebook by searching for Hernando Education Beat – Tampa Bay Times.

Superintendent denies he banned holiday parties in Hernando schools 12/20/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 20, 2011 6:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Epilogue: Former Salty Sisters captain Ernestine Mittermayr, 92

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Ernestine Mittermayr was proud to be a Salty Sister, one of a group of women sailors in the city.

  2. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars


    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  3. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey


    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  4. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign


    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  5. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]