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School Board Approves Purchase of AP Exams

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As more and more students are earning college credit through Advanced Placement classes, the Hernando County School Board has approved the purchase of more AP exams. At the April 23 board meeting, by a vote of 4-1, the board agreed to spend an estimated $249,128 on 3,216 exams from College Board, the not-for-profit organization that provides the tests.

“We’ve had the most kids we’ve ever had receive college credit last year,” said John Morris, director of secondary programs for the Hernando County School system. “I believe we had nearly 1,000 kids. Off the top of my head, I think we had 2,600 exams and nearly 1,000 kids received college credit.”

In 2023, there were 1,506 AP students in the district and 938 passed the exam to receive college credit. That doesn’t mean they didn’t pass the course. “This is to prepare more kids to take college-level courses,” superintendent John Stratton said. “As we’ve presented before, the research shows that if you take it, even if you score a two, the likelihood of you taking another and scoring a three or better is much greater. It’s about exposing students to the rigor expected in college.

“And to be real clear, they can get an A in the class and it goes on their high school transcript. It only goes on their college transcript if they get that three or better. So it doesn’t penalize the student in any way whatsoever.”

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Morris pointed out that the funding for the exams comes from additional FTE (full-time equivalent) money generated from each exam that is passed. Effectively the exams pay for themselves, as well as training of the teachers and textbooks.

“In particular, AP is making much more money than we’re putting out,” Stratton said. “So we pay a lot of teacher extra time, bonuses, training, and they spend the money down.”

Mark Johnson was the lone board member to vote against the motion.

Also, at the meeting, the board unanimously approved a trip for three members of the Elementary School Fixtures, Furnishings and Equipment committee to attend the VS Furniture Expo for School Expansion in Charlotte, N.C.

Eastside Elementary principal Mike Lastra, Moton Elementary principal Patty Martin and Weeki Wachee High principal Ed LaRose will attend the event on May 8-9.

The FF&E committee helps create standards for the furniture that goes into the district’s new additions and this expo is expected to provide new ideas. “This is a furniture manufacturer and they do not sell directly to us. They’re presenting concepts and their furniture,” director of facilities and construction Brian Ragan said. “The concept is that a lot of students like to fidget and move around, and we restrain that in traditional learning.

“It’s new concepts for learning where you actually have different types of furnishing. You may have some wobble stools and some chairs that allow some mobility. Not like they’re running around the room, but it lets them get that energy out and concentrate on learning instead of concentrating on sitting still and not breaking a rule.”

Other expenditures that gained unanimous approval were an estimated $250,000 from millage funds for threat and weapons detection software from ZeroEye Inc., $1,047,732 to Sun State International Truck, LLC for the purchase of seven school buses, and $1,159,222 for the purchase of architectural services to reuse existing plans from Harvard Jolly, Inc. for a new prototype 20-classroom building, adapted for re-use at Eastside, including a new cafeteria building and related site work.

Chris Bernhardt
Chris Bernhardt
A resident of Spring Hill since 1986, Chris graduated from Springstead High in 1999 before moving on to earn a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Central Florida. In summer of 2003 he joined the staff at Hernando Today, working at the paper for 11 years as a sports reporter, the last three as sports coordinator in charge of the paper’s sports coverage. After an initial 3-year stint with Hernando Sun, he spent four years as a staff sports reporter at the Citrus County Chronicle. Follow on X @cpbernhardtjr.
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