Saturday, May 26, 2018
Education

To save money and lengthen class periods, Hernando schools plan move to six-period days

BROOKSVILLE — Many Hernando County students will notice a big difference in their schedules starting next year: fewer periods.

The district's middle and high schools will offer only six instructional periods a day. Instead of having the opportunity to take 28 credits during their high school careers, students will take only 24 — the amount needed for a traditional diploma.

"It is streamlining what it is our students are taking," said curriculum supervisor Marcia Austin. "What we opted to do is offer more focus."

The change comes with pros and cons, but the discussion leading to the move has largely occurred within district offices and outside the public eye.

It has not come before the School Board and will not be voted on by the board, though it will be up for discussion at Tuesday afternoon's board workshop.

Board member John Sweeney said he looks forward to a thorough and transparent conversation.

"Many educators, including classroom teachers, music instructors and administrators, have shared concerns. Students are also up in arms," he said. "This concept is in its infancy, and is in no way, shape or form a done deal."

District officials say the change will provide more uniformity among schools, increase instructional time in the classroom and could save money. On the flip side, six-period days will reduce the number of electives students can take and could provide fewer opportunities to take credit-recovery classes during school hours.

Superintendent Lori Romano said the change is needed, given the district's current "C" grade from the state, providing more time for core instruction and to address any questions.

"District staff knew they needed to do something to increase instructional time," Romano said. "This is all about helping to improve the instructional process."

The schools that are moving to six-credit days will have longer class periods — 55 minutes or an hour, rather than 47 minutes — helping with student understanding, giving teachers more time to clear up misconceptions and reducing the need for later intervention, according to district documents. Adding 10 minutes to every period roughly equals about 30 additional hours of instructional time per class per year, Austin said.

Austin said the discussion started in earnest at the beginning of the school year in response to state funding changes and new standards. She said the district is only funded for six credits a day, and providing additional credits means less money per period.

Romano said it's too early to tell what impact the change would have on the number of teachers at schools or what the savings might be.

Hernando Classroom Teachers Association president Jo Ann Hartge said she is concerned with how the change might affect elective teachers, though she sees the benefits of six-period days.

West Hernando Middle School principal Carmine Rufa, one of the few administrators overseeing a school already on a six-period day, says the schedule works well because of the greater instructional time per period.

"We love it," Rufa said.

Nature Coast Technical High School principal Toni-Ann Noyes, whose school is also on that schedule, agreed.

"It's worked out well for us," Noyes said.

Aimee Whitehead, chairwoman of the Student Advisory Council at Springstead High, said she has doubts about moving to the new system.

She is worried about schools' ability to help students who have fallen behind and the impact of taking away electives.

"I do believe that it will take away ability to be competitive for college," she said.

She also is concerned that parents haven't been part of the discussion up to this point.

"I don't know if parents have been given the ability to digest what kind of impact this is going to have on their own child," she said.

Comments
Sparks fly among Hillsborough School Board members as private messages are leaked

Sparks fly among Hillsborough School Board members as private messages are leaked

TAMPA — Somebody got into Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snively’s Facebook account, copied her messages and gave them to a newspaper publisher who is a friend of her rivals on the board.The posts discussed politics and power struggl...
Published: 05/25/18
Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College student who was critically injured last weekend during an accidental fall on campus shortly before she was to graduate died today, the school announced.Rebecca Ryan "Becca" Lavin-Burgher would have graduated with a ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
A school resource officer allegedly told a gay student she would go to hell. Now he’s going away.

A school resource officer allegedly told a gay student she would go to hell. Now he’s going away.

The stares and whispers started on the first day of school more than two years ago, when Liv Funk and Hailey Smith silently declared their relationship in the halls of North Bend High School by holding hands.They knew coming out would be hard in the ...
Published: 05/24/18
What is a college’s responsibility to parents when a student is suicidal?

What is a college’s responsibility to parents when a student is suicidal?

CLINTON, N.Y. — In the days after her son Graham hanged himself in his dormitory room at Hamilton College, Gina Burton went about settling his affairs in a blur of efficiency, her grief tinged with a nagging sense that something did not add up.She fi...
Published: 05/24/18
Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

Hillsborough teachers hope to get some, but not all of their raise money

TAMPA — Teachers in Hillsborough County came closer on Wednesday to reaching an agreement with the school district that would give them most, but not all of the pay they expected this past year.The deal, if it happens, will end a year-long conflict t...
Published: 05/23/18
Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

Ridgewood High faithful recall ‘Pride of Pasco’ as school forges a new path

NEW PORT RICHEY — The line snaked through the hallways and into the cafeteria, as the Ridgewood High faithful waited for their chance to secure a piece of the school’s 40-year history.They came by the hundreds — current and former students, staff and...
Published: 05/23/18
Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

Words of wisdom from Class of 2018 on how school shootings have transformed them

TAMPA — The pain of the Parkland shootings Feb. 14 was fresh on the minds of Hillsborough County’s graduating seniors when about 300 of them received an assignment. Write a 250-word essay on how decades of school shootings have touched y...
Published: 05/23/18
Company in charge of Hillsborough substitute teachers weighs in on problem cases

Company in charge of Hillsborough substitute teachers weighs in on problem cases

TAMPA — The company hired by the Hillsborough County School District to fill more than 170,000 substitute teaching shifts every year is defending its record, saying it works to get to the bottom of allegations against employees, treat them fairly and...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

Sheriff: Weeki Wachee High student posted fake school shooting threat

WEEKI WACHEE — A 16-year-old was arrested Tuesday on allegations that she created a fake social media post threatening to shoot students at Weeki Wachee High School, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said the 16-year-old told...
Published: 05/22/18
Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

Hillsborough school district, teachers move closer to pay deal

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School District and its teachers’ union moved closer to resolving their salary dispute during Monday’s negotiating session — but stopped short of reaching an agreement.The teachers, who have spent this school year work...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18