11/16/17 Human Interest
SPRING HILL — From their mountainside home in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, Diana Mendez and her husband, Hector Guzman, watched two back-to-back hurricanes ravage the island in September. But the ongoing aftermath of the historically devastating storms — Irma and Maria — they've decided to watch from Hernando County.
Mendez and Guzman left the post-hurricane chaos behind in mid-October to stay with family in Spring Hill after their daughters, both healthcare workers, told them to leave the island to avoid fast-spreading disease. The couple plans to stay here through the holidays, living "day-by-day" until basic necessities, like clean water and electricity, are restored back home....
By MEGAN REEVES
Times Staff Writer
BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to spend $10,000 for a second districtwide survey to evaluate the performance of superintendent Lori Romano.
Like the first, which went out in May, the survey will be facilitated by University of South Florida professor George MacDonald and will give employees across the district the chance to weigh in on how Romano does her job....
BROOKSVILLE — Following an afternoon of tough questions and criticism from the Hernando County School Board on Tuesday, those behind a proposed charter school for the "academically advanced" have withdrawn their application.
According to School Board attorney Dennis Alfonso, the Chehuntamo Advanced Performance High School team pulled out "based on some of the comments" board members voiced about their proposal at an afternoon workshop. Less than three hours after it ended, and before the board could vote on the school's application at its evening meeting, the proposal had been rescinded....
Plans for a proposed charter school that would pull students from Hernando and Pasco counties will be recommended for approval by the Hernando County School Board on Tuesday, according to Angela Kennedy, the district's director of school choice.
The group of past area educators behind Chehuntamo Advanced Performance High School, some of whom were either fired from or forced out of their previous posts, say it will serve the "academically advanced" and that Ivy League admission for its graduates "will be common."...
After three failed attempts at election to the Hernando County Board of Commissioners, Jimmy Lodato has joined the 2018 race for School Board.
Qualifying isn’t until June, but Lodato, 75, filed for the District 3 seat this week. That spot will be vacated by board Chairwoman Beth Narverud, who has filed to run against incumbent Wayne Dukes and political newcomer Christopher Toohey for the District 2 seat of the County Commission....
BROOKSVILLE — As negotiations continue between the Hernando County School District and its teachers, conversation about the way instructors plan their lessons is at the forefront.
At a meeting Monday, representatives from the Hernando Classroom Teachers Association, the union for instructors, told district staffers that the current requirement for teachers to participate in common planning, or scheduled group work with other teachers, needs adjusting....
BROOKSVILLE — Community leaders gathered Monday ahead of Florida's upcoming legislative session to present their needs to Hernando County's state representatives.
Their requests touched on a variety of topics, including water and roadway projects, school district funding and community redevelopment, to be considered by legislators in Tallahassee when the session begins in January.
The county had two requests, the largest of which was proposed in light of the recent severe flooding in neighborhoods along the Withlacoochee River brought on by Hurricane Irma....
BROOKSVILLE — An annual evaluation of superintendent Lori Romano by the Hernando School Board this week made clear that the view of her performance is a mix of harsh criticism and enormous praise.
But the Tampa Bay Times' request for evaluation documents was denied by the school district, whose attorney cited a Florida statute that states: "No material derogatory to an employee shall be open to inspection until 10 days after the employee has been notified."...
Less than a week after state educators visited Moton Elementary School as part of an improvement plan, five teachers at the long-struggling school have been relocated.
In an email, district spokesperson Karen Jordan said "the state team that visited Moton last week did NOT initiate the teacher transfers" and that "those staff changes were initiated by enrollment" and Florida Statute earlier this year....
BROOKSVILLE — After two years of trouble at Moton Elementary, the only D-rated school in Hernando County for the past two years, state education leaders have stepped in to help.
Representatives from the Florida Department of Education visited Moton — long-plagued by high teacher turnover and student behavior problems, and ranked twice as one of the state's lowest-performing schools — for the first time last week as part of an improvement plan....
10/12/17 Human Interest
RIDGE MANOR — Brothers William and Terry Payne were close to realizing their dream. Six more months and their worm farm would have been open for business, bringing in extra cash to make ends meet.
They had the permits, a business partner and an estimated quarter-million worms. But Hurricane Irma and the severe flooding she brought to neighborhoods along the Withlacoochee River foiled their plan....
SPRING HILL — Less than 24 hours after a woman was shot in the face near an apartment complex clubhouse, Hernando County sheriff's deputies have made an arrest.
Deputies say Christian Fitzgerald, 17, shot Brianna Goble, 18, in an area between the clubhouse and pool at Spring Haven Apartments, 220 Spring Haven Loop, just after 9:30 p.m. On Friday morning, deputies were still searching for Fitzgerald, who they later found about 4 p.m., when he returned to his home in the complex....
Hernando County schools this week announced a decrease in the number of tests students will take this year.
Here are the changes:
- eliminated progress monitoring in writing for kindergarten through second grade
- reduced writing assessments from four tests to two for third through tenth grade
- eliminated FAIR testing for reading in grades six through 12
- eliminated additional progress monitoring testing for grades six through 12. Instead, teachers will use nine weeks exam data to assess student learning.
- eliminated progress monitoring for science for third and fourth grade student...
BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County school leaders on Tuesday spent nearly two hours debating the location of the School Board secretary's desk, ultimately deciding it will be moved closer to the board's office and further from superintendent Lori Romano.
The talk centered on where the desk should be — then turned to a bigger discussion about who should decide where that is.
Board Chairwoman Beth Narverud suggested the change at an informal meeting, after three weeks ago finding the School Board office at district headquarters had been moved without notice....
In the days since Hurricane Irma swept across Hernando County, Barbara Schmidt has developed a new ritual. She drives every day to the entrance to her neighborhood on Cyril Drive, off State Road 50, to see if the floodwaters have gone down enough that she can get to her house.
On Monday, they hadn't. She couldn't even get far enough down the road to see her house, much less get inside to assess the damage done by the swollen Withlacoochee River, which her home backs up to....