Saturday, June 23, 2018
Education

Pasco School Board approves cell tower at Seven Oaks Elementary

LAND O'LAKES — About 50 concerned parents and children urged the Pasco County School Board on Tuesday not to allow a cellphone tower to rise at Seven Oaks Elementary School.

"You are voting today on the risk," parent Robb Sercu told the board. Is $24,000 a year worth the risk we know is out there?"

The opposition, including a petition with about 1,100 signatures, did not sway the board. Only chairwoman Alison Crumbley voted against it.

"Some of you talked about a potential for risk," board member Joanne Hurley told the audience. "We already have a potential for risk. This does not add to the potential that is already there."

Hurley referred to information provided by assistant superintendent Ray Gadd, who told the board that the county already has 184 cell towers in it, with coverage throughout the Seven Oaks subdivision of Wesley Chapel.

Gadd also said using a cellphone exposes people to higher radiofrequency levels than standing beneath a cell tower.

A recent study of the radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure at the Long Middle School cell tower showed radiation increased by less than one percent after it was turned on.

The rates were far below the maximum allowed by the FCC.

Board member Allen Altman praised community members for their professional approach. He said he respectfully disagreed with their opposition.

"If we are concerned about these things then we certainly would dispose our cellphones and never have them near our children or in our homes or in our cars," Altman said.

The issue first came to the board a month ago, and was expected to be a routine approval. The board already had authorized cell towers at five other schools in recent years, including at Long Middle and Sand Pine Elementary.

But about two dozen parents pressured the School Board to kill the Seven Oaks proposal. They argued that the health risks were largely unknown, and that they'd err on the side of protecting their children.

Board members agreed to postpone their decision for a month, suggesting that would provide time for the district and parents to collect more information to help with the decision.

Parents blitzed the superintendent and board with e-mails demanding they reject the land lease, which is projected to generate $1 million over 30 years for the district.

The District receives revenue from towers at Fivay High, Long Middle, Sunlake High and a future middle school site in the Meadow Pointe area. The board also has approved cell tower lease agreements for Gulf Trace and Sand Pine Elementary schools.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a conceptual agreement for a joint park-school project at the proposed Starkey Ranch residential development. The County Commission approved the deal earlier in the day.

• Approved the 2014-15 school year calendar with classes on Veterans Day, a week off for Thanksgiving. Board member Steve Luikart opposed the proposal, saying he supports a day off for Veterans Day.

Comments
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18