Academy to get new student plan School Board new update

The Citrus County School Board took to the district dais Tuesday morning to hash out future term allowances and classes offered at the Academy of Environmental Science (AES).

Board members favored the second of two options presented by Director of Area Schools and Secondary Education David Roland, which will allow for a flexible transition year to ease into new pupil progression plan rules.

“AES is a very valuable option for our students,” Roland said. “We want to see it succeed.”

Under the second choice, freshmen will attend the charter school in their second semester while sophomores and juniors attend in the first semester. The board and AES committee unanimously decided seniors will not attend AES.

“I think it’s clear,” board member Sandy Counts said. “I think it’s in the best interest of the kids.”

The flexible year will grandfather in AES juniors signed up to attend as seniors in the 2017-18 school year. It will also allow underclassmen to pick which semester they attend AES.

“One of the biggest things for me is the transition year,” board member Thomas Kennedy said. “I’m pleased that staff has recognized that need.”

The board also considered the direction of courses offered at the charter school. Going back to the vision of the original charter, Roland suggested science-related classes and electives as well as English language arts.

“We did not find social studies in that original charter,” Roland said. “We felt like it was important to go back to what that charter was focusing on.”

“We do feel that the greatest resource AES has is that it’s an environmental science academy, not just a school on the water,” Assistant Superintendant Mike Mullen said.

District staff will revise the pupil progression plan to reflect the board’s choices and will present edits for vote a June board meeting.

School board also:

* At the request of board member Doug Dodd, the board reviewed the need for automated external defibrillators (AED) in elementary schools. Following a presentation by Risk Management Director Cherise Cernich and RN Carrie Lavesque, the board tabled the topic and will discuss at a later meeting.

* Planning and Growth Management Director Chuck Dixon presented new policy on service animals, outlining the board’s recognition of responsibility to permit service animals. The animals permitted, which include dogs and miniature horses, must be trained and used specifically for disabilities. The policy will be voted on at a future meeting.

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