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    Credit for honors courses retroactive

    The Pinellas School Board decides to award extra credit to high school students who previously took the courses.

    By KELLY RYAN GILMER, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published November 13, 2002

    LARGO -- After months of controversy, Pinellas County School Board members on Tuesday decided to retroactively award extra credit for honors courses.

    This year, 88 honors courses were added to the list of courses that merit extra credit when grade point averages are computed. The dilemma: Who should get those points?

    The board's 7-0 vote means that all students enrolled in the classes this year and those who enroll in coming years will get the points. So will all high school students who previously took the courses.

    The implications are significant. The points affect class rankings and students' abilities to compete for scholarships.

    "It's vital that we don't put our students at a disadvantage with the rest of the state," said board Chairman Lee Benjamin, making reference to the fact that Pinellas students compete with students in other districts for college entrance and scholarships.

    The decision went against the recommendation of superintendent Howard Hinesley, who had suggested that the points be phased in, with this year's ninth-graders being the first to get the points.

    However, School Board members agreed that this will be the only year the extra credit is awarded retroactively. In future years, the credit will be phased in, as Hinseley suggested.

    Of the 30 students and parents who spoke Tuesday night, most said awarding the points retroactively was the only fair decision.

    "Do what's right for the students sitting before you," said Tara Brandenburger, a senior at Dunedin High School. "Award equal credit for equal work."

    In other action, the School Board:

    -- Approved the 2003-04 school calendar. The first day of school will be Aug. 5, 2003, and the last day will be May 18, 2004.

    -- Approved the appointment of Jan Rouse, assistant superintendent of middle school and exceptional student education, as the associate superintendent in charge of curriculum and instruction. She will replace Judith Westfall, who is retiring in April. Rouse will begin her new job July 1, 2003.

    -- Suspended without pay a Safety Harbor Middle School teacher who is accused of making derogatory remarks to and about students. The district is moving to fire William Sutschek, but he has requested an administrative hearing. Sutschek will be suspended until the outcome of that hearing.

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