Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

Last day to ask for absentee ballots

COUNTYWIDE

Today is last day to ask for mail ballots

Today is the deadline for voters to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to their home. Voters can request the ballot by calling the Supervisor of Elections Office toll-free at 1-800-851-8754 or going to pascovotes.com. To be counted, the ballot must be returned to the Supervisor of Elections Office by 7 p.m. Nov. 6. Mail ballots cannot be turned in on Election Day at polling places. Voters must return the ballot to one of three Supervisor of Elections offices: East Pasco Government Center, 14236 Sixth St., Suite 200, Dade City; West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, Suite 110, New Port Richey; Central Pasco Professional Center, 4111 U.S. 41, Room 105, Land O'Lakes.

ZEPHYRHILLS

Faculty, staff want principal's return

An investigation into the conduct of Zephyrhills High School principal Steve Van Gorden continued Tuesday, with no resolution or recommendation planned until later in the week, superintendent Heather Fiorentino said. That did not stop several staff and faculty members from beginning a letter writing campaign calling for Van Gorden's quick return. He has been on paid leave since Oct. 19, pending the outcome of a review of unspecified accusations against him. "Under his leadership we have all experienced his unique ability to bring the school and community together in a way like we have never seen," the guidance staff wrote in an email. "The rapport he has established between our school, students, parents and community should be a model for our district." History teacher Judy Walker wrote that she travels an hour to Zephyrhills daily to work with Van Gorden. "He is also the only principal I know that truly has an open door policy," she wrote. "He listens, he cares, and he is always fair, even when the answer is not what was sought, he always takes time to explain his reasoning and ask for feedback." Fiorentino said she plans to make a recommendation in time for the Nov. 6 School Board meeting.

NEW PORT RICHEY

Classes resume after burglaries

Classes returned to normal Tuesday while school district officials continued to inventory the items stolen over the weekend from River Ridge Middle School, Chasco Elementary School and Ridgewood High School. No one has been charged in the break-ins, which officials said went undetected because those schools had not been equipped with alarm systems. The district has a plan to install alarms as funding becomes available, said assistant superintendent John Mann. River Ridge had alarms on its media center and administration buildings, but not the classrooms where burglars broke 31 windows. While deputies investigated the crime scenes on Monday, the 1,069 students at River Ridge were displaced, and about 650 of them went home early, Mann said. None left Chasco Elementary, he said.

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