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Math contest to stay, School Board says

Faced with some weak math showings in the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test last year, Citrus schools have zeroed in on ways to improve their math instruction.

The district bought a new series of math books. Schools are targeting math programs in their school improvement plans.

But at the same time, in an effort to rebuild a depleted school district emergency fund, superintendent David Hickey and his staff pulled a popular math competition from the budget, canceling the tradition of Math Field Day.

This week, the School Board made it clear that decision won't stand.

In a special meeting Tuesday, board member Sandra "Sam" Himmel said she wouldn't allow the annual student math competition to end. She wanted the event reinstated and for the district to find another way to make up for the $6,000 cost.

Board members Pat Deutschman and Patience Nave agreed.

With such a strong district focus on math this year, "I want it in," Nave said.

Deutschman said board members haven't had a chance to discuss the proposed cuts built into the budget they approved earlier this month. They were presented to the board just days before the final spending plan was set for approval.

At one meeting after the list was given, Hickey couldn't attend. The storms also distracted the board from further discussion of the items on the list, which also included cuts in training, flu shots, athletic costs, some personnel and shifts in funding other personnel.

Deutschman said she wanted the board to plan time to further discuss those cuts.

Any items already removed from the budget can be returned through a budget amendment at any time during the year.

Hickey defended the list, saying his orders from the board were to find items that could be cut to build up the emergency fund.

"I look at the total dollars," he said. "My task was to rebuild the undesignated fund balance."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at 564-3621 or