WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday

 Next Tuesday, the Hillsborough  County School Board will vote on a new calendar that  with include no days off for religious holidays, including Good Friday.Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and a strong majority of School Board members said earlier this week that they are comfortable with a 2007-08 school calendar that eliminates days off coinciding with Good Friday, the Monday after Easter and the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.Next week’s vote will allow the community to have their say

This morning on the WMNF Public Affairs program True Talk, Stephen Hegarty, spokesman for Hillsborough County Schools, said that hopefully cooler heads will prevail and accept the new calendar   (roll tape#1 o.q.”I think it’s fair to everybody”)

But over a year ago, the approval of a Secular calendar led to a divisive debate, with Hillsborough County Commissioners Ronda Storms and Brian Blair criticizing the School Board on Fox News O’ Reilly Factor.   After receiving angry and even hateful phone calls and e-mails from across the country, the School Board reversed their decision.  Again, Hillsborough County School spokesman Stephen Hegarty(roll tape#2 o.q.”instructional calendar”)

Muslim and Jewish groups had argued that if their own religious holidays, Eid al Futr and Yom Kippur would not be given a holiday, the Christian observvnce of Good Friday should also not get its own day.

Jonathan Ellis is from the Jewish Community Relation Council (roll tape#3 o.q.”it’s acceptable”)

Whether everybody involved in the debate is ‘on board’ is debatable.  David Caton is the Executive Director of the Florida Family Association.  His group was ultimately successful last year in pressuring the School Board …..And as WFTS, ABC 28 reported earlier this week, Caton is sending out letters to his group blaming the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and its Tampa leader, Ahmed Bedier, for the Board deciding for this secular calendar.


Hillsborough Spokesman Stephen Hegarty says the e-mails coming into Board Members  criticizing the new proposed calendar has been heavy (roll tape#4 o.q.”we didn’t send you anything”)


The discussion and vote on the Secular Calendar will take place at the Hillsborough County School District Board Meeting next Tuesday afternoon at 5PM.  That takes place at 901 East Kennedy Boulevard in downtown Tampa.

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