HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. -- School starts Monday in Hernando County, and students at one elementary school will be returning with an almost completely new staff.

  • Moton Elementary to see completely new staff
  • Change meant to boost the school’s rating
  • LINK: Visit our Back to School page

Only eight of the current teachers at Moton Elementary School are back from last year. In April, all of the teachers were let go. Tenured teachers were reassigned and everyone else had to reapply.
"I felt really hurt for my son’s sake, because he doesn't like changes that much," Moton parent Stephanie Lavender said.
But Principal Brent Gaustad, who started at Moton in January, has confidence in his new staff.
"We had an overwhelming support from teachers all over three, four counties coming in. I want to be part of this change over. I want to be part of this new school makeover," Gaustad said.

The drastic change was meant to help boost Moton's ‘D’ rating. But, after the 2017-2018 school year, Moton's grade was raised to a ‘C.’

Gaustad hopes to only continue to build off that momentum.
"Historically, reading has been a problem, so we're going to attack the reading. Math was a little bit too low -- we're going to attack that. We're going to behave," he explained.
And it's not just the staff that's different this year -- tens of thousands of dollars went into renovating the school.

Gaustad hopes the bright and clean facility will motivate the students.
"What we need kids to see is we care about the school, we care about them. We're going to make it beautiful for them, and we are going to teach them the best we can because they are going to learn and excel,” he said.
And Lavender said she’s going into this year with an open mind.

"I'm hoping that it's going to be a great year. It seems like he has a nice teacher this year. We just got to make sure that you know she's plugging in where she needs to be plugged in for his sake and the other kid's sake,” she said.

The community has also wrapped their arms around Moton this summer. Dozens of pairs of shoes and backpacks were donated, so every student can walk into class feeling prepared.