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Boca Ciega High School to try grade, attendance experiment

Boca Ciega High School will be the testing ground for an academic experiment next year. The idea is to figure out if students do better if exam exemptions are tied to grades rather than attendance. Students at the Gulfport school also will have a chance to improve their grades simply by showing up at school. The School Board on Tuesday approved waivers of district policy that will allow the experiment. During this experiment, Boca students who get an A or a B will be able to opt out of all of their end-of-semester exams, regardless of their attendance record. In addition, students with a C will be able to exempt out of final exams if they have perfect attendance and if the teacher allows. Students with D or lower would not be able to exempt at all. The current district policy allows exemptions only if attendance is good and limits the number of exams that can be exempted. To keep attendance up, Boca will allow students who have three or fewer absences to add 1 percent to 4 percent of their numeric grade to their final grade in a course as a reward for attendance. The board also agreed to move the Early Graduation Option program from Boca Ciega to Osceola High School in Seminole. That will make room at Boca Ciega for incoming students in the school's medical magnet program and will help offset declining enrollment at Osceola.

Hospital police officer finds

patient in Boca Ciega Bay

ST. PETERSBURG _ The body of a Sarasota man wearing pajamas was found floating in Boca Ciega Bay on Tuesday, Pinellas County sheriff's deputies say. Robert G. Sherer, 50, had been a patient at the nearby VA Medical Center at Bay Pines since Friday. There were no signs of trauma, and sheriff's spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said deputies were investigating his death as a suicide. The hospital's staff discovered Sherer missing from a medical ward shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday. A hospital police officer found the man's body about 10:45 a.m. in the bay, said Bay Pines spokesman Larry Christman. "It appears that he waded out into the water and drowned," Christman said. Sherer, an Army veteran, had been brought to the hospital Friday for mental observation. Christman said the staff detected an irregular heartbeat. He was treated in the intensive care unit for a short time, then placed in a medical ward. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death.

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