Sunday, May 20, 2018
News Roundup

Pasco's AMIkids schools appeals to county, district to stay open minus state grant

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco's AMIkids alternative school is slowly piecing together a temporary plan to remain open after it lost a key state grant in May.

The nonprofit school is working with the school district on the details of a temporary location in Land O'Lakes. And on Monday, officials made a pitch to County Administrator John Gallagher for up to $100,000 to offset transportation costs.

The goal: to keep the doors open for a year in hopes that the Legislature will provide ongoing state funding afterward. State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, said there's "a good chance" that money could be approved next spring, considering Pasco's high-powered legislative delegation that includes incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Trinity, who is also tapped as a future speaker.

But if lawmakers do come through with the money, it wouldn't be available until next July. So, AMI needs to fill a yearlong gap.

Gallagher did not agree to a specific plan on Monday. But he said if commissioners agree to help, that assistance could take several forms. For example, the county could cut the school a check to cover gas, maintenance and salaries for bus drivers. Or, it could allow the school's buses to use the county's fuel stations and maintenance sheds.

Commissioner Pat Mulieri said she would present the options to her colleagues at the July 24 meeting in New Port Richey. She said she supports the school because it helps address kids' behavioral problems before they become more serious.

"It brings something into their life that fills a need," she said.

Formerly known as the Marine Institute, AMIkids has operated in Pasco since 1993. It has been teaching up to 50 kids at a time, though its final students recently finished classes. The school would reopen in mid August. The Pasco branch still has eight employees, but five will likely find jobs at other AMI locations. As the school starts up this fall, more staff would be added.

Under a new grant with the Department of Juvenile Justice, Melbourne-based Paxen Learning Corp. will provide after-school counseling and mental health services for minimum-risk kids in eight Central Florida counties. AMIkids has an agreement with the school district to provide services during the school day, and it is trying to fill the gap left from the loss of the former DJJ grant.

"AMI, or the Marine Institute, changes (students') lives in more ways than one," Fasano said. "But most importantly it brings discipline into their life."

AMIkids officials are in talks with schools superintendent Heather Fiorentino about a location they can use for the next year. They are considering two sites in the Land O'Lakes area. One site is the old Sanders Memorial Elementary that was closed in 2010 and partially demolished.

District spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said a final location hasn't been picked and the School Board must approve the decision.

Eric Hall, AMIkids' education director, said Central Pasco is ideal because the school serves kids from across the county. The school now has three bus drivers, but moving to Land O'Lakes means the school would only need two drivers.

Even with a location from the school district and transportation help from the county, AMIkids regional director Michael Shumans estimated the school would need between $75,000 and $100,000 to stay open.

Fasano said he is asking local candidates to consider donating part of their leftover campaign money to the school. Shumans said the board of directors will also solicit donations and hold fundraisers throughout the year.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

Rays hang on to beat Angels 5-3 behind Robertson slam, get back to .500

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Playing .500 ball is obviously no goal, and the Rays certainly know that.But given where they came from, that terrible 1-8 start that oozed into 3-12 and 4-13, climbing back to the respectability of .500 would be an accomplish...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

Rays journal: New pitching plan worked so well Romo starts again Sunday

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first part of the Rays' new and unusual pitching plan worked so well Saturday, as game "opener" RHP Sergio Romo struck out the first three Angels hitters, that the Rays will do it again on Sunday.That's right. Romo will st...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay withstood Washington’s barrage

TAMPA — A two-goal lead was suddenly only one, and the Washington Capitals, having pulled their goalie, had a furious 96-second siege.Andrei Vasilevskiy made the last three of his 28 saves to preserve the Lightning's 3-2 victory Saturday in Gam...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

Lightning-Capitals: How Tampa Bay’s early surges carried the day

TAMPA — Dan Girardi knew where the puck was heading. It was heading to Alex Ovechkin for a one-timer on net, so Girardi did the only thing he could do. He blocked it.With his rump."It hit me right in the cheek," said Girardi, the Lightning defe...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 3-2 victory in Game 5

TAMPA — Faster than Justify down the stretch at the Preakness, quicker than Harry and Meghan walked down the aisle at Windsor Castle, the Lightning jumped on Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. No runaway gallop. No funny hats. Just ho...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

Lightning-Capitals: How Ryan Callahan and his linemates overwhelmed the Caps

TAMPA — They're called grinders. Pluggers. Checkers.They're lunch-pail guys. Like 9-to-5ers. They get up every day and go to work. They punch in and punch out for no glory or credit. But the business would fall apart without them.They're the fo...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

Justify wins foggy Preakness, keeps Triple Crown bid alive

BALTIMORE — Justify rounded the final turn and hit the top of the stretch winded but with the lead. The roar from the crowd was delayed, hushed by the thick fog that enveloped the track. When Justify emerged from the haze in view of the grandstand, t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Quick strike, but not the quickest ever

Lightning-Capitals: Quick strike, but not the quickest ever

TAMPA — Cedric Paquette needed only 19 seconds to put the Lightning on the scoreboard Saturday night, coming up with the second-fastest playoff goal in franchise history.The only goal faster? Tampa Bay's Adam Hall needed only 13 seconds to scor...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Rowdies tie in debut of new coach Neill Collins

St. PETERSBURG — Neill Collins, the former Rowdies defender who this week abruptly replaced Stuart Campbell as coach of the team, was a bit ambivalent about his debut, but he sure liked the way his club played in the second half of Saturda...
Updated: 8 hours ago
USF softball team’s season ends in Gainesville

USF softball team’s season ends in Gainesville

The USF softball team's season ended late Saturday in the Gainesville Regional with a 3-2 loss to Ohio State, its second NCAA Tournament loss to the Buckeyes in as many days.OSU (36-15) must defeat No. 2 overall national seed Florida (52-8) twice Sun...
Updated: 8 hours ago