1. Hernando

School buses, technology updates and teacher recruitment on Hernando schools legislative agenda

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times Hernando County School District ? 919 N Broad St., Brooksville
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times Hernando County School District ? 919 N Broad St., Brooksville
Published Sep. 18, 2018

BROOKSVILLE — Busing concerns, security technology updates and teacher recruitment efforts could headline the Hernando County School District's concerns in Tallahassee next year. As the district's legislative picture for 2019 sharpens, it looks like a local lobbyist will work on the School Board's behalf.

The School Board hopes to finalize its selection of a new lobbying group and the district's legislative platform in the coming weeks. Neither is set, but discussion during last week's School Board workshops pointed the way forward.

The board on Sept. 11 reviewed a draft of the district's proposed single-page platform, compiled from requests by staff, for the 2019 legislative session. It laid out eight major needs under three categories — transportation, teacher recruitment and technology. As the board tried to narrow down the priorities, members also noted significant needs that were not on the list.

Several members argued that the technology platform needed to list specific updates and how much each would cost. One might be technology to improve school security — possibly including new surveillance systems — with the hope that legislators would take particular interest.

"It's more school-related and may be something they'll wrap their heads around with everything that's going around from Parkland," School Board Chairman Mark Johnson said.

The transportation category had just one item, funding to buy new school buses outfitted with three-point harnesses. The board received the idea well — though Johnson argued that it may make more sense to retrofit existing buses with harnesses — but spent more time adding to the list of transportation needs.

They focused on adjusting the standard for which students are allowed to ride buses. State law requires school districts to bus students living outside a "reasonable walking distance" from their school. By the state's definitions,a student could have to walk as far as two miles from home to school, or a mile-and-a-half from home to a bus stop.

Board member Beth Narverud wondered what it would cost to tighten that radius.

"We are a rural county, and we do have a lot of dangerous roads that do not have sidewalks," she said.

The board made more headway in narrowing the teacher-recruitment category into a few main goals: more forgivable loans and scholarships for teachers; compensating teachers for certification fees; and reducing the emphasis on a mandatory general knowledge exam, which board members agreed could impede enthusiastic teachers who haven't thought about subjects like algebra in years.

"We had teachers who were outstanding, just outstanding, but could not pass this for one reason or another, whether it was a math situation, or in the case of world languages, making the translation into English," said board member Susan Duval, a longtime school administrator. "I really think that is something that needs to be addressed."

The platform will go through another workshop discussion on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. School district spokeswoman Karen Jordan said the board hopes to approve the platform on Oct. 9.

In shorter order last week, the board tentatively decided on a new lobbying group. The top pick by all five board members was Trinity-based Sunrise Consulting Group. The group's president, Shawn Foster, has lobbied for Pasco-Hernando State College, Pasco County, Hernando County and the City of Brooksville.

Foster bid a $42,000 annual contract with a proposal that leaned heavily on his experience in and around Hernando County.

The board will vote to approve the group's contract on Sept. 25 during the 6 p.m. School Board meeting.

Contact Jack Evans at Follow @JackHEvans.


  1. A for sale sign is seen in front of a home in the Westchase area of Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Times (2013)
    And a spike in cash sales suggests investors were active in the market.
  2. A look at the construction on the Tierra Verde bridge project which is the bridge between Isla Del Sol and Tierra Verde islands on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 in St. Petersburg. The project began in December 2018 and is scheduled to be completed in summer of 2021. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Dr. Delay takes a deep dive into the construction process for the $56.3 million State Road 679 and Bayway Bridge project .
  3. A proposed bill in the Legislature would set a statewide referendum on whether to amend Florida's constitution to add a year to the period when home buyers can transfer their accumulated benefits under the Save Our Homes cap on property assessments to a new home. Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty says going from two years to three would reduce the possibility that construction delays in a booming real estate market would prevent some buyers from meeting the deadline, costing them potentially thousands 
 of dollars in property tax savings. [SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN | Times (2019)]
    The bill, the idea of Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty, would give buyers another year to transfer their tax savings under Florida’s Save Our Homes assessment cap to a home they’ve...
  4. Child and family advocate Jack Levine. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    The founder of 4Generations Institute discusses his commitment to children and families.
  5. More than 44 percent of people who searched on for the Tampa Bay area from June to December were outside the region, according to a report from Apartment List. Percentages in the “Top Three Sources” box represent the share of searches coming from outside the metro area. (Apartment List map) [Apartment List]
    The region trails only Denver, Baltimore and San Diego for the percentage of people from outside the area searching for apartments on Apartment List.
  6. Hernando County's deputy fire chief has been chosen as the new fire chief in Groveland. [Hernando County]
    Hernando’s assistant fire chief gets kudos from Hernando County Commission.
  7. ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times
The Brooksville Blueberry Festival has attracted many visitors from outside the community. [ALICE HERDEN | SPECIAL TO THE TI  |  Alice Herden]
    Commissioners approve $22,630 in funds for community activities.
  8. Members of the  Brooksville Buffalo Soldiers brought up the rear of the parade along Howell Avenue Monday morning at annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in downtown Brooksville. Pictured in front is Trooper Richard Wilder (holding flag) and his grandson Trevon Douglas. In back is First Sergeant H.L. Williams and his grandson, Trevion Patterson. [PHYLLIS DAY  |  Times]
  9. Jaclyn Campbell, 23, left, braves the cold temperatures while walking with her colleague Tysjah Pitchford during their lunch break in downtown Tampa in December. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Temperatures Tuesday reached the 30s for the first time since 2018. Wednesday will start there, too.
  10. Michael Maine is the Hernando County School District senior recruiter. [Hernando County School District]
    The district has on average 39 teacher openings.