Tavares Lake County School Board met Monday, June 5 to discuss potential changes to the school system in light of legislative budget cuts. The legislature is working on approval of what it calls “Schools of Hope” program, in which charter schools will be given funding and no zoning rules to open near failing public schools. The school board met to discuss potential changes to the public school system to compete with these charter schools.
In order to improve Lake County schools, the Superintendent and Board have come up a list of goals it hopes to enact in the coming 2017 – 2018 school year. These goals include no schools below a B grade; eliminate 3rd-grade retention; offer vocational skills training beginning in middle school to improve job readiness; help college-bound students excel by increasing options such as dual enrollment and other high-level options like AP courses; accelerate VPK opportunities to get children learning from a younger age.
With funds not increased by much, the board hopes to encourage its goals by making changes to how the school year is run and potential cuts if needed. Changes to the school year that were discussed include increasing the elementary school day by one hour to allow for more character building, art, science, and other more specialized learning; optional enriching Saturday school offering art, social studies, and tutoring for any students who need it; extending the school year itself; Returning to block or modified block scheduling in high schools. Ideas presented for elementary schools would be put to the test in one or two schools during the upcoming school year.
Potential cuts may include repurposing employees into classrooms instead of hiring new recruits, large cuts to computer-based programming, which would include cuts in local testing, and other ideas not yet expanded upon.