Hernando County offers a variety of educational choices for families, including traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools and special magnet programs. The process for applying for a public school magnet seat for the 2020-21 school year has just begun, whether a student will be entering kindergarten or moving to middle or high school.
Here is a look at the choices:
School district choice programs
The Hernando County school system offers five special programs for families who want to venture beyond their traditional zoned public school. Three are magnet schools and two are high school choice programs.
Chocachatti Elementary School Center for the Arts and MicroSociety
4135 California St., Brooksville
Chocachatti is a certified MicroSociety, a school modeled after modern-day business and societal operations. Students learn to run mini businesses, apply technology, develop government and social agencies and create cultural and art-centered organizations. The goal is to bridge the gap between real-world skills and academic learning by exposing students to ideas about democracy, entrepreneurship, responsibility and humanism, giving them the foundation to succeed as adult citizens. Parents and guardians are required to volunteer a minimum of eight hours during the school year. Those wishing to submit an application are required to attend an orientation meeting. The first meeting was in October. A second one is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Nov. 6 in the cafeteria at Hernando High, 700 Bell Ave., in Brooksville.
Challenger K-8 School of Science & Mathematics
13400 Elgin Blvd., Spring Hill
At Challenger, all instruction on core academic subjects is thematically tied to math and science concepts. Hands-on learning is paired with traditional instruction. The school also focuses on career education, and offers arts programs that include chorus, band, commercial arts and computer graphics. Parents and guardians are required to volunteer a minimum of eight hours during the school year. Those wishing to submit an application are required to attend an orientation meeting. The first meeting was in October. A second one is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Nov. 6 in the cafeteria at Hernando High, 700 Bell Ave., in Brooksville.
Nature Coast Technical High
4057 California St., Brooksville
At Nature Coast, students are equipped with skills in technology and taught to problem solve using critical thinking. Social interaction is encouraged through an “atmosphere of trust, high expectations and consistent support,” according to the school’s website, and the curriculum is designed to push students toward improved scores on standardized tests. The school offers several specialized programs, including auto mechanics, culinary arts, theater and acting, aerospace technology, digital video production, medical skills, graphic arts, criminal justice, engineering and computer technology. Those wishing to submit an application are required to attend an orientation meeting. The first meeting was held in October. A second one is scheduled for 6 p.m. Nov. 7 in the school’s cafeteria. Students who are zoned for Nature Coast Technical should attend an orientation meeting to submit their choices.
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Central High - Cambridge program
14075 Ken Austin Parkway, Brooksville
The Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Diploma is an international curriculum and examination system that emphasizes the value of broad and balanced study. It offers students the opportunity to tailor their studies to their individual interests, abilities and future plans within an international curriculum framework. An information session for interested students and parents may attend an informational meeting from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 7 in the Central High auditorium. Questions should be directed to AICE coordinator Ruth Owen at email@example.com or (352) 797-7020, ext. 213.
Frank W. Springstead High School - International Baccalaureate program
3300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill
The program offers a rigorous course load, blending honors, advanced placement and IB classes to prepare advanced students for college. According to the IB Organization, “IB learners strive to become inquirers, knowledgeable, thinkers, communicators, principled, open-minded, caring, risk-takers, balanced and reflective. These attributes represent a broad range of human capacities and responsibilities that go beyond intellectual development and academic success.” Information sessions for eighth-grade students and parents interested in learning more about the program at Springstead are invited to attend meetings on Nov. 20 or Dec. 4 in the school’s cafeteria. Both meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m. Questions should be directed to IB coordinator John Imhof at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 797-7010, ext. 239.
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Publicly funded but privately managed, charter schools have been around in Florida since 1996.
Often controversial, but undeniably growing in many parts of the state, they were created to give families an alternative to traditional public schools, with the goal of offering a more innovative curriculum. Enrollment in charters grew to 313,586 last school year across 658 schools in 47 Florida counties. That’s a 37 percent jump from five years earlier.
The growth has been less robust in Hernando County, where fewer than 500 students were enrolled in three charter schools last year. Here is a look at the county’s charter options:
Brooksville Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Academy
835 School Street, Brooksville
"A quality middle school education focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, engaging students in the educational process and developing lifelong learners who can compete in the global market, all within a safe, caring, disciplined, and nurturing environment that serves the needs of the Brooksville community.”
Gulf Coast Academy of Science and Technology
10444 Tillery Road, Spring Hill
At Gulf Coast Academy, learning is largely hands-on. Students participate in weekly field experiences, or learning activities outside the classroom — like crawling through local caves for a geology lesson, or building and testing miniature, remote-controlled submarines — to enhance and build upon classroom instruction. The school’s focus is environmental science.
Gulf Coast Middle School
2139 Deborah Dr., Spring Hill
Gulf Coast Middle serves as a second campus for Gulf Coast Academy and affords students the same hands-on experience meant to “enhance the instructional program while providing safe, supervised physical activities.”
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In Hernando County and across the nation, the vast majority of families continue to choose traditional public schools. But private school enrollment in Florida has generally been on the rise for the last 10 years — from 313,291 students in 2009 to more than 380,295 last school year.
In 2018-19, private school students comprised nearly 12 percent of kindergarten through 12th-grade enrollment across the state. The choices include religious schools, independent and secular schools, and schools for students with disabilities or special needs in every grade level. Some are a combination of all of the above.
In Hernando last year, 2,188 students were enrolled in private schools, a 52 percent increase from a decade ago. In the next few weeks and months, many private schools in Hernando County will hold open houses to welcome potential students for the 2020-21 academic year, just as public schools will be doing.
Many of the county’s 20 private schools are listed below. For a full list, visit the Florida Department of Education website, fldoe.org/schools/school-choice/private-schools.
990 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Brooksville
(352) 593-4185; K-12
“Student well-being is at the heart of EK12. Here, this private school is not equated with stress, but with the freedom to imagine, create, and rediscover the joy of learning. We integrate therapeutic and relaxation techniques into every aspect of the day – from the simple practice of removing shoes after entering the school to mindfulness moments.”
Esther's School Inc. - Spring Hill
8064 Spring Hill Dr., Spring Hill
(352) 403-5023; K-12
“Together with the K-12 basic education program, we provide the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum to help students see life from a Christian’s point of view and develop Godly wisdom and character.”
Faith Christian Academy
175 Springtime St., Spring Hill
(352) 686-9350; PreK-12
“A Bible-based school that serves kindergarten through 12th grade. We are proud to have served Hernando and Pasco counties for over 35 years.”
Methodist School Center
109 S Broad St., Brooksville
“An excellent academic education that is well-balanced, comprehensive and integrated with religious truth and principles within a nurturing Christ-centered environment. ... An extension of the First United Methodist Church of Brooksville.”
Golden Branch Christian Academy
11085 Hearth Road, Spring Hill
(352) 515-1857; K-12
Providing students "the opportunity to succeed in a safe, ethical, nurturing and respectful Christian environment.”
Hearthstone Christian School
5053 Griffin Road, Brooksville
(352) 251-5501; Grades 3-12
“The closest thing to a home education your child can receive while still attending a day school. We understand that not every family has the resources to educate their children at home but still desire to remove them from the secular influence of public education. ... so we have created a unique opportunity that affords your child a quality education in a safe environment for much less money than most other private schools.”
Hernando Christian Academy
7200 Emerson Road, Brooksville
(352) 796-0616; K4-12
“Our mission at Hernando Christian Academy is ‘Building Leaders with Christian Character.’ This is accomplished within the educational context to a biblical world view that impacts both academic and extracurricular activities. Emphasis is given to each student’s total development, which includes their personal commitment and service to Jesus Christ.
Notre Dame Catholic School
1095 Commercial Way, Spring Hill
(352) 683-0755; PreK3-8
“Established in 1985, Notre Dame has provided a traditional, high-quality Catholic education to the communities of west central Florida for over 25 years. Notre Dame has a full early childhood 3-year-old program, Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program and kindergarten through eighth grade, with extended day available as well for all grade levels. ... accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference.”
Spring Hill Christian Academy
3140 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill
(352) 683-8485; K3-12
“As a private Christian school we seek to provide a quality education on a solid foundation of faith and academics. We are members of the Florida Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Suncoast Christian Athletic Conference.”
West Hernando Christian School
2250 Osowaw Blvd., Spring Hill
(352) 688-9918; PreK-12
“We provide Christian education to students from PreK-12th grade to prepare them to live as kingdom-minded adults. Our students do not just attend here, they belong here.”
Wider Horizons School
4060 Castle Ave., Spring Hill
(352) 686-1934; K3-12
“A college preparatory academic program that believes character development is the basis of a quality education. Self-discipline, responsible actions and respect for self and others are the building blocks of character. … All teachers have at least four-year degrees and those working in the Montessori levels have Montessori training.”