Pinellas School Board candidate wants more fundamental schools
Pinellas County needs one if not two more fundamental high schools and should explore the possibility of another K-8 fundamental school in the Ulmerton Road area, said School Board candidate Fonda Huff.
"Parents are begging for their children to be in a fundamental school," Huff told the Gradebook. "That's my big issue."
Huff, 54, of Largo is running for the at-large, District 2 seat being vacated by Nina Hayden. She has been a teacher for 17 years (11 in Florida) and now works as a math/science coach, rotating among Northeast, Osceola, Seminole and St. Petersburg high schools. She is the mother of former Rays slugger Aubrey Huff.
"I'm somebody that the voters could relate to -- the parents, the teachers, the administrators," Huff said in a brief interview. "Being in this coaching position, it's my job to talk to the teachers and relate the information from the county to the schools. I know what they want in Pinellas County."
Huff's granddaughter attends Bay Vista Fundamental Elementary in St. Petersburg, and her daughter drives from Largo every day to get her there. That's too long a drive, Huff said. She said Pinellas could use another fundamental high school on either end of the county and a fundamental K-8 in midcounty. She also said that every child trying to get in to a fundamental school should be able to get in.
Among other priorities: Huff said she wants the district to restore the high school exam exemption policy that was changed this school year because of swine flu fears. "Attendance is horrible," she said. Back in Texas, where she worked for many years, "I don't care if you were a straight-A student, you had to have so many seat hours or you didn't graduate."
Huff also said she wants to see more alternative placement for overage middle school students, who she suggested are part of the problem at John Hopkins and other schools with high suspension rates. "I don't feel like a sixth-grader should be in with those (overage) students," she said. "If a student is that far behind, they need to be moved into a place like Pinellas Secondary or a school just for them."
She said superintendent Julie Janssen and the School Board are taking the right steps now to deal with chronically disruptive students, but questioned why they did not act sooner. "It should have started a long time ago," she said. "If there had been 60 arrests before (at Hopkins) and the county knew about it, the county should have done something about it."