Saturday, December 16, 2017
Education

Pinellas Park students design license plate to honor fallen officers

PINELLAS PARK — Florida lawmakers decided years ago to put a halt to new specialty license plates — at least until July 2014.

But a group of earnest teenagers wants to persuade the Legislature to break its moratorium a year early.

The teens have created a specialty plate — featuring two intersecting blue lines, a pair of badges and the phrase "A hero remembered never dies" — to honor law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

And they already have two local legislators willing to champion the effort.

"As politicians, we come up with a lot of ideas," Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, said Wednesday. "Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that come from everyday folks."

This idea began in a Pinellas County classroom. Students enrolled at Pinellas Park High School's Criminal Justice Academy began working on it two years ago, shortly after the death of three St. Petersburg police officers.

Their teacher, Richard Cross, suggested the students channel their emotions into designing a license plate. Afterward, the kids picked their favorite — and told their teacher they wanted to see it become a reality.

Florida already has more than 100 license plate designs, part of the reason the state instituted a moratorium.

"We don't care what it takes," said 16-year-old junior Lauren Lofton. "It's going to happen."

Lofton, whose father is a detective for the St. Petersburg Police Department, knew Sgt. Tom Baitinger, one of the officers killed in 2011.

"He actually taught me to tie my shoes," she said.

Lofton and the other students said they want proceeds from the plate, which would cost $25, to help present and future law enforcement officers.

Latvala and state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, have filed companion bills (SB 712 and HB 911), which would have 70 percent of the fee go toward training and equipment for officers and the remaining 30 percent go toward education.

Numerous local law enforcement officials and Lorraine Yaslowitz, whose husband Officer Jeffrey Yaslowitz was killed, attended a news conference Wednesday.

Yaslowitz said she was impressed by the students' "vigor." So were Latvala and Dudley, who said they will do everything they can to get the bills approved this year.

"This is a worthy tribute and a wonderful idea," Dudley said.

 
Comments
Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

Top USF Health official leaves amid questions of assistant’s special treatment

TAMPA — A high-ranking University of South Florida Health official has resigned amid internal concerns that he was giving special treatment to his assistant.After an internal investigation, USF System President Judy Genshaft was poised last month to ...
Published: 12/15/17
Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

Hillsborough school district and its teachers are at a bargaining impasse, but still talking

TAMPA — A months-long conflict over planned pay raises has moved to a new phase with the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association declaring a bargaining impasse with the public school district.The two sides, which began negotiations in late spring...
Published: 12/15/17
Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Pinellas schools sheltered thousands during Irma. Here’s what it cost

Three months later, the Pinellas County school district has totaled up the costs of operating 16 schools as shelters for 25,000 evacuees during Hurricane Irma.The district is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for a reimbursemen...
Published: 12/15/17
Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

Love of science is the goal, now that every Pinellas elementary school has a lab

SEMINOLE — It was hard for the second-graders at Orange Grove Elementary to resist the urge to rush into the school’s science lab and tinker with the colorful objects neatly arranged on each table.Thursday was just their second time in the lab this y...
Published: 12/15/17
Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Florida lawmakers want stronger college free speech rules amid First Amendment flareups

Rising up in defiance to Richard Spencer, hundreds of University of Florida students sounded off in a deafening chant."Go home, Spencer!" they shouted, as the exasperated white nationalist paced the stage, pleading to be heard.Were the students exerc...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

Hernando could be next stop for PACE Center for Girls

BROOKSVILLE — The new year could bring about new beginnings for at-risk girls in Hernando County.Pending a vote by the School Board next month, PACE Center for Girls, an alternative education program for middle- and high-school students, could open a...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17

Pasco school district, employees reach contract agreement

The raises for Pasco County school district employees aren’t as high as anyone would like, but they’re now part of a signed tentative contract deal reached just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.If ratified by the staff and the School Board, the agreements ...
Published: 12/13/17
For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

For Bexley students in Land O’Lakes, math skills go airborne

LAND O’LAKES — At Bexley Elementary School in Land O’Lakes, students are throwing paper airplanes — with the help of a high tech computerized launcher. They’re also bowling — with a little aid from computerized drones. And when they get around to it,...
Published: 12/13/17

Proposal to rollback early learning programs could bring Citrus into Pasco-Hernando coalition

Some Florida lawmakers have not hidden their desire to scale back the statewide number of early learning coalitions that oversee child care and preschool programs, including Voluntary Prekindergarten.The state Office of Early Learning has now issued ...
Published: 12/13/17
Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

Brink Foundation, school district create Town ’N Country STEM hub

TAMPA — Elementary school students programmed an electronic mouse to make its way through a maze.Middle school students directed an electronic vehicle to stop on a dime, then use its arms to locate and lift a tiny cube.When the demonstration was done...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/14/17