Sunday, Dec 21, 2014
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Discovery Academy talk set for Tuesday

BY GEOFF FOX
Tribune Staff

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The Hernando County School Board is expected to decide Tuesday whether to approve a program designed to benefit middle school students who have fallen behind two years or more.

District staffers are recommending the board approve the implementation of Discovery Academy, which could accommodate 75 students at Central High School in Brooksville. The program could cost $700,000 annually.

The Endeavor Academy in Brooksville, a program for at-risk high school students, costs about $1.4 million a year.

The school board will discuss Discovery Academy at a workshop at 1 p.m. Tuesday, and at its 7 p.m. meeting.

During a May discussion of Discovery Academy, school board members seemed convinced of the need for the program, but budget constraints were a concern.

“How do you absorb the additional costs?” school board member Matt Foreman asked.

In Hernando, students retained two years or more struggle most with reading and science classes, and male students are twice as likely to fall behind as female students, Dave Dannemiller, principal at Winding Waters K-8, told the school board last month.

Parents of Discovery Academy students would be required to meet with their child’s student mentor four times during each academic year to monitor the child’s progress.

The program would be run under the STEAM theme, focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. The program could include job-training, community service projects and competitions meant to stimulate creativity.

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Also Tuesday, the board is expected to approve the reassignment of language arts teacher Erin Cougill from West Hernando High School.

Earlier this month, a split school board approved Schools Superintendent Lori Romano’s recommendation not to fire Cougill after she reported to school drunk on Dec. 11.

Cougill was suspended without pay after the incident, and Romano initially recommended her termination.

School board attorney Dennis Alfonso told the board June 10 that mitigating factors would make it difficult for a termination recommendation to prevail at a Division of Administrative Hearings proceeding.

Cougill will have a job next year, pending the evaluation of an addiction expert. School district information indicates that her assignment next year has not been determined.

gfox@tampatrib.com

(352) 544-5283

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