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Bet they didn't like the lottery either

The anti-casino folks can count on the Hillsborough School Board to back them up.

The board has gone on record opposing the proposition for "Limited Casinos" in Florida, just as it went on record opposing the Lottery when it was proposed a few years back.

The School Board's opposition is based on the usual anti-casino reasoning. Members believe it will increase crime in Florida. But they have another reason for opposing it. They're concerned that it will cut into the Lottery revenue, which goes to Florida's schools.

Where do they go when they have a day off from school?

This school year there are 841 students being educated at home in Hillsborough County _ an increase of about 7.5 percent over last year.

So where are all these home school students? The vast majority of them are in Tampa (359). Many are from East Hillsborough, with 103 in Plant City, 88 in Brandon, 68 in Valrico, and 43 in Riverview. The only other significant numbers come from Lutz, with 45 home schoolers, and Temple Terrace with 39.

Perhaps it should be no surprise that some of the highest numbers of the home-school students are the 12-year-olds _ those who would be about the right age for a sixth-grade center. The single-grade centers have not been particularly popular, and the school district is eliminating them by moving to a middle school configuration.

Parents don't have to give a reason when they decide to home school their child. But in 1992-93 the state Department of Education conducted a survey to get an idea of why parents decided to home school. They discovered that more than a third of the parents cited dissatisfaction with public school instruction.

It seems 35.3 percent of the parents surveyed simply decided they could do a better job. The second biggest reason parents gave for home schooling was religious, which accounted for 31.5 percent. The category "other reasons" accounted for 29.4 percent. That category includes medical problems, safety concerns, overcrowded classrooms and other concerns. A small percentage _ 3.8 percent _ cited dissatisfaction with private school instruction.

A few changes in the contract

By now teachers are well aware of the pay raises that are headed their way. So long as the agreement is ratified by teachers and approved by the School Board in the coming weeks as expected, the pay boosts should start showing up in paychecks in November.

But there's a lot more to the contract agreement this year than just the money issues. The Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association negotiated several changes (more than 150, actually) in the contract language related to working conditions.

Here are some of the changes:

Teachers shall be informed of any student in their classroom who has been involved in serious offenses. In the past, the district had the right to notify teachers but was not required to do so.

Under normal conditions, students who have assaulted a teacher will not be returned to that teacher's class without the consent of the teacher.

Teachers will not be required to direct traffic around school. Union officials say that occasionally teachers have had to help direct traffic. They still may do so, but only if they volunteer.

Teachers will be involved in decisions to retain or not retain students. Teachers normally have influence on such decisions, but not always.