Only Hernando County students can attend NCT
Hernando TodayThe issue: Should school district officials allow 19 out-of-county students to continue to attend Hernando County's only magnet high school?
Published: May 22, 2009
Published: May 22, 2009
Our opinion: Nature Coast Technical was designed and built expressly for Hernando County students seeking an advanced education in technical skills.
School board members have found themselves in a dicey conundrum upon learning out-of-county students have been allowed to attend the county's only magnet high school, Nature Coast Technical.
Only those students living in Hernando County are allowed to attend NCT - or any of the other magnet schools, for that matter. These special schools are designed to further the educations of Hernando County's best and brightest and receive extra funding from local taxpayers to achieve that mandate.
Spending Hernando County taxpayers' money on students from Pasco and Citrus counties violates the school district's policy and flies in the face of fairness and common sense.
That it was allowed to happen is a travesty.
While 19 of the out-of-county students who want to continue to attend NCT are now claiming to be victims of an administration that failed to properly monitor admissions, Hernando County taxpayers and Hernando County students are the real victims.
Hernando County students were denied access to a better education because NCT administration failed to adequately screen applicants. At least the 19 out-of-county students received the benefits of a first-rate school that Hernando County students were denied.
Who knows how many other out-of-county students have graduated in the school's six-year existence and, therefore, how many other Hernando County students were denied this top-quality education?
We may never know.
What we do know is students from others counties are eligible to attend other Hernando County public schools because we are part of a statewide education system. However, magnet schools are different. They are Hernando County's shining gems of education - from the upscale new buildings and facilities they inhabit to the top-rated programs, educators and expanded curricula they offer.
It is a privilege to attend NCT and the county's other magnet schools. Allowing out-of-county students to attend NCT gives the school a black eye and calls into question the process by which students were admitted. This failure of accountability gives credence to some who charge the school recruits students for athletic programs and plays favorites utilizing a good-old-boy system.
Margaret "Tizzy" Schoelles, the outgoing principal who recently was notified she's been reassigned to another school next fall, was either aware or should have been aware out-of-county students were attending NCT. Maybe her transfer to another school was a punishment for this indiscretion. Some would argue it's not sufficient.
On June 2, the five-member school board is scheduled to give the 19 out-of-county students a chance to plead their case to remain at NCT.
This decision should not be based on how well these students and their parents can beg. It should be based on whether school board members want to give up seats at NCT to out-of-county students at the loss to Hernando County students.
Knowing that as many as 19 Hernando County students could continue to be denied access to NCT because school board members grant clemency to the out-of-county students would be a continued injustice to Hernando County students and taxpayers.
Two wrongs don't make a right, the old saying goes.
We bet the attitude of the out-of-county students and parents would change if they were charged the equivalent in property taxes for sending their children to NCT.
NCT administration created this problem. School board members must deal with it, foremost keeping in mind that any out-of-county students allowed to continue to attend NCT will directly deny Hernando County students a chance at a better education.
To us, the decision is an easy one. If out-of-county students are not allowed to attend NCT, out-of-county students aren't allowed to attend NCT.
It's that simple.
If you follow the rules - something education is supposed to teach our children - it's an easy decision.
Sometimes, our elected leaders are required to stand up and make tough decisions. This is one of those times.