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Monday, Mar 30, 2015

School board should reverse course on bell schedule changes

Special to Hernando Today


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The current Hernando County School Board needs to be replaced in its entirety.

The board has no direction, cannot accomplish a simple political act of getting impact fees reinstated and is now going to cause families to spend money to provide after school care for elementary school children because their older siblings will be getting home much later than them.

We are appalled at the lack of vision and common sense on the current board. Just reading the “revised” school schedules brings to mind that this Board seems to have no idea of safety, protecting children, or furthering education. All they seem to care about is saving $600,000 or 1⁄100 of the annual budget.

The pain and problems this seemingly simple change is going to wreak on families in Hernando County is the latest in a series of missteps and errors that this board has effected. First, the board was unable to convince Hernando County commissioners of the great need for impact fees. Oh, and commissioners Nicholson, Russell, Dukes, and Atkins for your information, there are more new houses going up right now than in the past four years combined, yet you stick to your protection of your political handlers, the builders.

As for our illustrious school board, maybe if you had contacted PTA groups and had the commission chambers packed with parents helping you fight, the outcome may have been different.

Then you give thumbs down to changing school times to provide busing for children who have to walk or be driven over a mile to get to school. And now, the final straw: You want to change school times to save a pittance in revenue without helping anyone.

This change you are instituting is going to cause too many problems for families to even debate the individual issues. Did you think to ask parents or conduct a simple online survey of how many families rely on older siblings in middle school to watch their younger siblings because their parents work? Now you want to transfer the cost you are saving to these same parents who will now have to find and pay for after school care for elementary school children.

On a personal note, we have twins entering eighth grade next year and a daughter entering her senior year in high school. We now have no intention of allowing our twins do any extra curricular activities because of these changes. If they don’t get home from golf, tennis, baseball, or football practice until after 8 p.m. please tell me when are they supposed to do their homework and projects?

It is bad enough that buildings are crumbling because our esteemed county commissioners have refused to help by having new residents contribute to maintain a school system that has been going downhill for the last three years. Funny, that is the same time you people who are elected to provide good education, and safety of all residents cut impact fees, cut budgets, and mismanaged personnel on both the county and school sides which is now impacting education and safety of residents.

You people on the school board are supposed to represent us, and are paid very well for a part time position. Stop hurting the families of Hernando County. If you need more money to fix schools go to the community and get their support to force the county commissioners and their blind support for builders to change their ways or lose their jobs. Make it a public issue and keep it in the focus of the news and families of Hernando County. Do your jobs, stop hurting families and making middle school students lose out on sports and clubs that would otherwise be available to them. And don’t make families spend more of their hard-earned income to care for young children who are now going to get home far earlier than parents or middle school siblings.

Keep the current schedules as they were and let the families feel secure, and the middle school students partake in extra curricular activities without wrecking the family dynamic. And if the county commission forces you to raise school taxes to repair and maintain facilities for our children, it is your job to make sure the community knows it was the nearsighted county commissioners (less Ms. Rowden) who caused the tax increase while benefiting the builders and Mr. Nicholson’s engineering business of Hernando County.

The parents of middle school and elementary school students implore you to return to the current bell schedule. It is what you were elected to do and what is right.

David Parker is a retired Spring Hill resident.

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