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Gifted Center needs some rethinking

Re: Fridays may get summer off | May 23 story

Gifted Center needs rethinking

I read that Hernando County Schools superintendent Wayne Alexander is "examining every dollar, in every department, every day," and even considering a four-day school week to save money. This is clearly a ruse to divert attention from the real cuts. If it's not, we're in big trouble!

What's next? Replace buses with horses and carts? Bales of hay instead of expensive tables and chairs?

Seriously, with teacher positions and books being cut across the board, I would like to remind Alexander, School Board members and your readers of the true cost of the new Gifted Center at Explorer K-8.

Last year it cost $900,000 to give gifted services to 400 gifted students at local schools. Because the state funds $2,100 for each gifted student, the cost to the district was small. The new Gifted Center needs $1.6-million to operate next year, or $700,000 more district money than this year.

Nobody asked the parents if they wanted their children uprooted and herded across the county to a single center. There are too many reasons why a child or parent may not want to leave their current schools to list here, but it is likely that about half of the 400 will not move.

This means they no longer will receive gifted services and the district no longer will receive $420,000 state funding for them. Therefore, the true additional cost to the district will be more than $1-million a year.

Alexander and the School Board need to admit they have made a big mistake in the way the Gifted Center project has evolved, one they can clearly not afford. I think if they were totally honest with themselves they already know it; you can tell by their testy or defensive responses when questioned.

I know it takes character to admit you were wrong, but they need to quickly before they lose the state funding, 200 kids lose their gifted services, and the 200 kids who do go find out there will be no way the district can approve anything close to $1.6-million in the 2009-2010 budget without the state funding, and they will have to move back to their zoned schools.

I'm not against a gifted center for those who want it. I'm just saying slow down, scale it back a bit; you won't have as many kids as you expect without lowering the bar. Allow local schools to offer gifted services and keep your funding.

If Alexander really is examining every dollar, this gifted center must be giving him nightmares. Please, wake up now before it's too late.

Jeff Fuller. Brooksville

Re: Trips, not tests, mark year end at schools | May 30 Dan DeWitt column

Field trips not a

waste of time

I am sorry to hear that Chocachatti Elementary has let your son, I mean you, down, Mr. DeWitt, by going on too many field trips. I am not sure if you are aware, but the School Board requires teachers have their grades entered and uploaded by May 23. Many of us teachers continue to teach, just using more interesting methods to keep anxious-for-summer children interested and engaged.

I have to admit, it is a difficult task at times, even for the most seasoned teacher. It probably would be easier to fool the children into thinking we are still taking grades and make them open up their textbooks to continue studying right up to the very last day of school, but then again we probably still would get complaints.

Planning field trips for approximately 155 children and their families is a daunting task. Let's not forget that some of these field trips run past the 3:45 p.m. workday. Sorry, no overtime pay, or food and gas allowance here; just dedicated teachers who want to make the "best year ever" for your child. I'm not sure if you are aware, but students are not required to go. Teachers leave that decision up to the parents' good judgment to decide if their child did or didn't work hard enough.

Field trips certainly aren't a waste of time. They build camaraderie among peers and allow children to go places they might not otherwise be able to go. Since the trips are funded by parents who choose to send their children, and many trips support local businesses, I cannot see how they are a waste of taxpayers' money. With the exception of some of the fifth-grade "celebratory trips," all other field trips have educational tie-ins to the academics being taught in the classroom.

As DeWitt wrote, his "son didn't want to miss a minute of it." Why do you think that is, Mr. DeWitt? I'll tell you why — because we "wonderful, patient, underpaid teachers" foster a loving, caring community of learners, no matter what we are doing or where we are going. That's what our students don't want to miss!

M. Ladines, Brooksville

Gifted Center needs some rethinking 06/03/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1:53pm]
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