July 31, 2008

Same Time For Open Houses

By Linnea Brown, Hernando Today, Brooksville, Fla.

Jul. 31--BROOKSVILLE -- Parents with children at different elementary or K-8 schools may have varying views on the Hernando County School District's new "parent friendly" plan for open house night.

For the first time, the district's 12 elementary and K-8 schools will hold their open houses simultaneously from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 14.

"We're trying some new things," said Barbara Kidder, director of professional development. "We're trying to standardize things for parents, and give them flexibility."

The district's K-8 schools are J.D. Floyd K-8, Explorer K-8 and Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, all in Spring Hill.

However, all three schools boast magnet programs -- which accept students based on interest and/or ability, and do not permit siblings to attend -- making the likelihood high for parents who have one child at a zoned school and another at a magnet school.

Also, hundreds of local students are set to switch schools this fall due to changes in school zoning and busing, complicating the situation further.

Kidder pointed out that the block of time for the event is three hours, and said each school's events are designed continuously so parents can go straight from one child's open house to the next.

District officials also purposely set the program from late afternoon through mid-evening to give teachers more flexibility with their schedules that day, she added.

But for full-time working parents, just struggling to make one open house before the 6:30 p.m. closing may be tricky.

Kidder said officials will see if the plan works, then plan accordingly for next year.

"We're trying to be more parent-friendly. We don't know if it's going to work or not, but we'll never know until we try it," she said.

Also, schools will hold other events throughout the year for parents who are not able to make the open house, she said.

The same evening, district officials will also try another unprecedented move: hosting a special open house at 6 p.m. in the district's boardroom for district parents who currently homeschool their children.

This is designed to recruit children whose parents may have previously been cautious about enrolling their children in public schools, officials said.

The district's four other middle schools will not have open houses, but will have textbook pickup and tours available on Aug. 14 and 15.

After school starts, the district's four non-K-8 middle schools will host individual evenings for parents by grade level. Those dates have not yet been set.

The district's four high schools will hold their open houses from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 9.

Tonight, officials at the district's newest and largest school, Explorer K-8 on Northcliffe Boulevard, will also host a special "sneak peek" grand opening event from 5 to 7 p.m. with "food, fun and guided tours" for local residents, according to a release.

Officials at the district's charter school, Gulf Coast Academy, said they are not planning an open house, but will host a sixth-grade student orientation on Aug. 10.

Reporter Linnea Brown can be reached at 352-544-5289 or [email protected]


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Copyright (c) 2008, Hernando Today, Brooksville, Fla.

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