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....
11/12/13 Human Interest
SPRING HILL — William "Bill" Davis could not think of any reason not to enlist in the Navy in 1943.
Not the possibility of danger. His mere 18 years of age. Or even the fact that he was not actually a U.S. citizen.
A native of Ireland in the United States on a student visa, Davis signed up and served 18 months as a hospital corpsman in the Pacific Ocean in the midst of World War II — a post that took him to New Caledonia, New Guinea, the Philippines and elsewhere....
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School District and teachers union continued negotiations this week over how to distribute roughly $3.8 million in raise money from the state, but the two sides remain fairly far apart.
At Thursday's meeting, the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association proposed a 4 percent raise on top of automatic step increases — an amount that would equal roughly $1,800 for each of the district's 1,655 teachers....
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board has paved the way for the county to once again collect educational impact fees.
But it didn't come without some kicking and screaming, and with one builder warning that reinstating the fees would hurt the local home-building industry.
In a process that has spanned months, the School Board voted 3-2 Tuesday night to adopt the findings of a recent educational impact fee study and send a resolution to the Hernando County Commission, asking commissioners to revise the fees accordingly....
BROOKSVILLE — Vicki Weaver was lying in her Brooksville Regional Hospital bed about two weeks ago during the final days of her two-year fight with cancer.
On medication, the beloved Central High School teacher had dozed off, remembered friend Bethann Brooks.
Then she awoke. She grabbed Brooks' hand. She had something on her mind: Homecoming.
"We need to do fans," she told Brooks, dreaming up a theme for next year's event — Asian or rattan....