Friday, February 23, 2018
Education

Foundation steps up fundraising to help Pasco, Hernando families with child care costs

SPRING HILL — Megan Fish was working, but she couldn't save any money.

"All my checks were going to child care," said Fish, 19, mother of 1-year-old Brayden and an employee at Care-A-Lot Preschool. "I barely had enough for diapers."

Her boss told her that the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties offered subsidized child care to parents who qualified. In April, she filled out the paperwork, but Brayden was on a waiting list of at least 600.

At the same time, the coalition's nonprofit foundation was busily raising money. Members racked up $10,000 through an antique car show and other events. They decided to spend $4,800 to provide services to two children — one in each county — who had been on the waiting list a long time. One of them was Brayden. The other was 15-month-old Presley, daughter of Lauren Schafer of Holiday.

"People often find child care through family relationships," said Jim Farrelly, the coalition's executive director. "They leave the child with grandma and that's great. But we want children in an educational setting where they are getting instruction to enter and succeed in school."

Two years ago, the coalition started a private foundation to try to make up for shrinking state funding.

"We got small donations," said Farrelly, who noted the lack of big corporate donors in Hernando and Pasco.

He said the wait list, which now stands at more than 600, has been on track to reach 2,000. Farrelly wants to knock that down as much as possible.

"To deal with all the kids on my wait list it would take an additional $7 million," he said.

He said this year the agency took a $125,000 hit to its $26 million budget, which also is devoted to funding the state's voluntary prekindergarten program that is open to all families. Next year, it's projected to lose $250,000 because of tight state finances and a new funding formula.

"We don't want to see anybody on the waiting list," said Dave Meglay, a certified financial planner and chairman of the foundation board. He said the state ties the coalition's hands by not allowing employees to raise money. A private foundation doesn't have to operate under those restrictions.

"Now that the foundation is getting some legs, we can put a dent in the wait list," he said.

Fish plans to use the extra take-home pay to start nursing school and eventually become a pediatric nurse.

"This is going to be a huge help," she said. "Not all my money is going to have to be put toward day care."

Comments
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Published: 02/22/18
Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

Collards, ribs and Kool-Aid: Black History Month menu at NYU stirs controversy

NEW YORK — On Tuesday, a dining hall at New York University advertised a special meal in honor of Black History Month. On the menu? Barbecue ribs, cornbread, collard greens, and two beverages with racist connotations: Kool-Aid and watermelon-flavored...
Published: 02/22/18
Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

Arming teachers? Some officials like the idea, but many educators don’t (w/video)

With high school students from Parkland in the Capitol this week advocating for gun control, the bill that would have allowed superintendents and principals to designate trained employees who can carry concealed weapons at school didn’t get heard as ...
Published: 02/22/18
How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

How will Douglas High students go back to class? There’s now a plan in place.

When students return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High for the first time next Tuesday, they will be greeted by additional counselors and law enforcement."There will be a plethora of counselors and services at the school," Broward Schools Superintende...
Published: 02/21/18
School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

School shooter may get inheritance — and be ordered to spend it on legal bills

Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz appears to have been in line for a sizable inheritance. He’ll never get to spend it — except perhaps on defense attorneys.The amount could be enough to compel a judge to order him to hire a private lawyer, rather ...
Published: 02/21/18
Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

Pasco County schools, dealing with threats, warn students of consequences

DADE CITY — A Pasco High School student was taken into custody Tuesday amid accusations of threatening violence against the school. The campus was not at risk, school district officials said. But they made clear they take each threat seriously, and t...
Published: 02/21/18
‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

‘Blind Side’ star delivers message to Newsome High kids

LITHIA — Students, faculty and staff recently scurried inside the Newsome High School gym for a morning assembly to hear a message about bullying from a man who kids once taunted.Newsome’s principal Carla Bruning invited actor Quinton Aaron, star of ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

Spoto High helps students un-bottle emotions with Challenge Day

RIVERVIEW — Spoto High School English Department Head Adam Sherman can’t help but wonder if a program he introduced to Spartan students could have changed the trajectory of Nickolas Cruz’s life before he gunned down and killed 17 people on Valentine’...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Published: 02/20/18
Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members are not happy about the prospect of having to hand over academic control at three struggling schools to a private company, and paying the firm up to $2 million on top of it. But that’s the course they must...
Published: 02/20/18