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School plan upsets war veterans

(ran LT, ET editions of NATIONAL)

The proposed calendar for the 1998-99 public school year in Hillsborough could make parents and students happy. War veterans, though, are already mad.

If the Hillsborough County School Board approves the plan today, high school students will finally be allowed to take exams before winter break, not after. Students will get the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off, giving parents the option for a longer Turkey Day trip.

But Veterans Day, a federal legal holiday recognized Nov. 11, didn't make the cut. School officials have proposed replacing the traditional day off from school with a week of in-class emphasis, called Veterans' Observance Week, to be held Nov. 9-13, 1998.

"The intent . . . was to honor veterans, as opposed to dishonoring them by removing the day," said Joseph Trumbach, director of administration for Hillsborough schools. "In turn, we're trying to give them a whole week."

Veterans aren't buying it.

"I feel that to delete Veterans Day from the school calendar is more than disappointing and a definite affront to such a large population of veterans," said Peter Smith, county service officer and manager of Hillsborough's office of veteran affairs.

"I agree that a day or week of observance would be fantastic. That doesn't mean that we give up a day that was set aside to commemorate all of the world wars of the United States of America," he said.

Students in Pinellas and Pasco counties do not get a day off for Veterans Day, but Citrus and Hernando students do. To satisfy parents' and students' requests to change the 1998-99 calendar, something had to give, Trumbach said.

According to the proposed calendar, students will return to school August 24, 1998. Deleting Veterans Day keeps the district from ordering students back to class even earlier, Trumbach said. It also decreases the number of school weeks that are interrupted by a holiday.

The School Board meets at 3 p.m. today at the Raymond O. Shelton Administrative Center, 901 E Kennedy Blvd.