Recognition of Hernando schools’ efforts to keep students safe and the way Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are being implemented in county middle schools topped the agenda of the Hernando County School Board’s informal meeting on Oct. 25.
CTE programming allows students in Hernando County schools to participate in courses covering a variety of disciplines including health science, construction skills, information technology, logistics, and others. Board member Kay Hatch told the panel that the program is effectively creating options for students in the district.
“I wanted to find out what’s happening with our CTE programs and to see what’s happening in middle schools,” Hatch said. “All the programs are making progress.”
According to Hatch, some of the District’s CTE programs are “well integrated” into the middle school curriculum.
“Some of (the schools) have actual ‘you sign up for it’ classes and other schools are using ‘specials’ to put students in those programs,” she said.
Specials are classes that rotate among CTE disciplines. As a result, classes in each discipline begin with a 15-minute review of material covered the last time that particular class met.
Despite their progress, the programs still need to grow and improve.
“There is more work to be done – the staff knows that there is more work to be done – people at the district level know that there is more work to be done,” Hatch said. “But the real point is that there is work being done and that progress is happening.”
According to School Board Chairman Gus Guadagnino, programming for students in district schools figures significantly in the County’s ability to attract new business into the area and to retain those already located here.
“Before (anything else, operators of )businesses that wanted to relocate to Hernando County would say ‘tell me about your school system’ because that’s where their workforce was coming from,” Guadagnino said. “It’s so encouraging that there is hope for our future – – it’s definitely the fuel of the economics around here.”
Later, School Board member Jimmy Lodato asked that a letter from the National Law Enforcement Recognition Initiative recognizing security and school-hardening measures in place in Hernando County Schools be read into the record. Those so-called school-hardening measures refer to policies such as regular emergency drills, visitor security measures, and the in-school placement of resource police officers already in place at Hernando County schools.
The Initiative was established by the National Law Enforcement School Safety stakeholder after the Parkland School shooting to create bonds between schools and local law enforcement.
“This letter is presented to the Hernando County School District in recognition of their current efforts in implementing and maintaining school security 2021-22,” the correspondence read.
Lodato said that reading the letter helps inform the community about how schools are keeping students and staff safe.
“(People) ask me what the schools are doing to be safe and I say I can’t give you that privileged information,” he said. “This is a great recognition of the great work that has and is being done to keep our schools safe.”
School-hardening measures were discussed in a closed session during the Board’s Oct. 25 workshop session. Exactly what measures have been or will be implemented are not publicly disclosed for security reasons.