BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board on Tuesday took its first look at changing a controversial policy that eliminates busing for students living within 2 miles of their schools.
It's the first time the board has considered alternatives to the policy since it was approved in June 2011 as a cost-saving measure.
District staffers presented two plans that would reduce the district's 2-mile no-busing zone to 1 mile for certain age groups beginning with the 2014-15 school year....
SPRING HILL — Veton Krasniqi was 5 years old when he and his family fled their home in Kosovo amid the growing ethnic conflict that engulfed the region in the late 1990s.
Just a day after they escaped, their house outside the capital city of Pristina was bombed and burned down by Serbian military forces under Slobodan Milosevic because of the Krasniqi family's ethnicity and religious preferences. ...
A sampling of high school kids whiffed on a big exam this year, and many people are worried.
Last week's results in the Program for International Student Assessment — a series of tests given to 15-year-olds in 65 education systems around the world — showed U.S. students lagging far behind many of their peers in math, science and reading. Florida students fared even worse.
The PISA tests aim to assess how well students apply their knowledge to real-life situations, and the poor results triggered a slew of finger-wagging and calls for higher standards. ...
BROOKSVILLE — Three Eastside Elementary School teachers went to principal Tim Urban last April, claiming they had been bullied and harassed by another teacher.
One worried about the teacher's lack of boundaries, even around students. Another said she felt intimidated and emotionally and physically depleted by the end of the day. A third told of how an interaction had left her on the verge of tears, feeling threatened and scared....
11/26/13 Human Interest
BROOKSVILLE — Kandyce "Kandy" Callaghan was a nurse for years before she found her true calling as an educator.
Instead of saving lives, she wanted to change them.
"Nursing was a fulfilling and rewarding career," she told an audience during a 2004 speech, "but it really can't compare with the feeling you get from teaching a child what you've learned yourself."
By all accounts, she did just that....
BROOKSVILLE — As a parent of a daughter with Asperger's syndrome, Laura Recco has had to deal with the effects of a lot of bullying over the years in the school system.
Recco says her daughter has been picked on, called names, spit on and had water thrown at her. She worries about going to school.
Recco had a simple message for a group gathered Thursday night at Central High School: "Kids need to understand that not everyone is the same."...
11/22/13 Human Interest
SPRING HILL — Mark Lombardi-Nelson had a simple wish for his 21st birthday last month: make his papi happy.
Disabled and in deteriorating health, Mark Nelson's bills were stacking up. The large Spring Hill family's already tenuous financial situation was getting worse. Finding the money for rent, utilities and food had become a huge challenge.
"He was always so stressed about it," Lombardi-Nelson said. "It really got to him. Before he got disabled, he never had problems like this."...
BROOKSVILLE — A second-grade teacher at Pine Grove Elementary School was suspended without pay for 10 days after an investigation into allegations that she physically and verbally mistreated students.
Teresa Wimmer, a nine-year veteran at Pine Grove, was suspended without pay beginning Oct. 29 after the Hernando County School District's investigation.
Wimmer returned to the school in a different teaching assignment on Nov. 13 and was placed on probation for the remainder of the school year, according to the district's investigation. She will complete courses in classroom management and other strategies, and agreed to waive additional due process proceedings....
BROOKSVILLE — Beginning next school year, Hernando County's magnet schools will be able to send students with attendance problems, excessive tardiness, behavior issues or poor grades back to their zoned schools.
By a 4-1 vote, School Board members approved the change Tuesday night as part of the district's 2014-15 magnet program procedures handbook.
"It's not that the magnet schools are any greater," said School Board member Matt Foreman. "It's that at any time you're attending any school other than your zoned school, it's a privilege. If you don't live up to your end of the bargain, the privilege should no longer be extended."...
BROOKSVILLE — A plan to build a larger cushion into the Hernando County School District's budget has won the support of School Board members.
During a workshop Tuesday, board members gave tentative approval to a policy requiring the district to work to maintain a balance of 5 percent of the general fund budget. The state requires a fund balance of no less than 3 percent. The district doesn't have its own policy....
BROOKSVILLE — A J.D. Floyd K-8 School teacher accused of repeatedly engaging in sexual activity with a 16-year-old boy has resigned from the Hernando County School District.
Cynthia Lynn Herr, a prekindergarten exceptional student education teacher at the Spring Hill school, resigned Sept. 25, shortly after her arrest. The School Board approved her resignation Nov. 5.
Herr was first arrested Sept. 23 in Hernando County on charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor. She was arrested again at her Citrus County home the next day on similar charges....
SPRING HILL — One parent wanted to see changes to the Hernando County School District's controversial policy on student busing. A mother lamented how difficult it is to get her child into the magnet program at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics. Another worried about her son's education at Fox Chapel Middle School. Others spoke about their concerns with exceptional student education....
BROOKSVILLE — With the economy beginning to bounce back, the Hernando County School District is looking to build a bigger financial cushion into its budget — a move that would bring the district in line with many others across the state.
At Tuesday's workshop, School Board members will consider a policy requiring the board to work to maintain a balance of 5 percent of the general fund budget. The state currently requires a fund balance of no less than 3 percent. The district doesn't have its own policy....
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County Education Foundation didn't have to go far to find its new executive director.
On Thursday, the foundation's board named board president Tammy Brinker to the vacant position. She will officially take over in December.
The post was held briefly earlier this year by former Hernando superintendent of schools Bryan Blavatt, who resigned after about two months. Blavatt said he and the board had different roles in mind for the executive director....
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District and teachers union remained at odds this week about how best to distribute roughly $3.8 million in raise money from the state — even as more districts across the state are reaching agreements of their own.
On Wednesday afternoon, the district offered up four options. The Hernando Classroom Teachers Association quickly rejected all but one....