School's progress belies criticism
Imagine School at Land O'Lakes is a comprehensive learning center wherein the parents, teachers and administration are committed to providing a dynamic learning environment. As a community we are proud of the advances we are making on behalf of our students and take exception to the misinformed comments and opinions that have appeared in this newspaper's pages and on its blogs.
The 2010–2011 school year brought a period of transition and offered the administration and staff an opportunity to initiate true and valued change. These changes provide enrichment for advanced programming opportunities, as well as interventions to assist students not meeting state standards. Some examples: Intensive reading and math for students who score low on FCAT; daily advanced instruction for elementary students above grade level and additional reading intervention for those who need it; and new middle school offerings this year in algebra 1, music, Spanish, and careers. Elementary art and music will be offered beginning in January.
Extracurricular offerings include drama club, chess club, an after-school sports program that began in October, and planned middle school trips to the Florida Keys and to Washington, D.C.
The above improvements can only be made when the highest quality teachers are leading their classrooms. Since my arrival at Imagine School at Land O'Lakes, I've made it my priority to assess every teacher and make changes where changes are necessary. Our teachers meet or exceed the state required certifications for their assignments, and several are working on additional endorsements and certifications. The students reap the benefits of dedicated teachers — most of whom choose to send their own children to Imagine — who are committed to developing each child's full potential.
Our educational community invites and encourages parental involvement at all levels.
Without a doubt, I faced challenges when I took over this school. But those challenges were my opportunity to design and deliver a first-class school to the families who want first-class educations for their children. Under my direction filings are made completely and on time. With the support of my board, I am finalizing a new, state-of-the-art building that will be the permanent and proud home of Imagine School at Land O'Lakes. And because of the progress our students are making, I'm looking forward to the results of the next FCAT.
I will not accept any person marginalizing our students, slandering our staff, underestimating the role of our board, or insulting our parents. The pride we feel at Imagine School at Land O'Lakes this year simply is a starting point. It will thrive and grow as our students — the heart of our school — continue to achieve their goals.
Kathy Helean, principal
Imagine School at Land O'Lakes
Board a problem, not homeowner
Here they go again! The green-grass zealots on the Beacon Woods Civic Association board are ganging up on another homeowner over not having green grass in his yard.
I have lived here in Beacon Woods since 1981. I just took a look at what the fuss is all about. The story fails to say that the area in dispute of James Gahagan's yard is only one-half of his front yard. The rest of the yard had green grass. That which is being complained about looks great.
The association has pushed the people around so much there is an overabundance of fertilizer that flows off the lawns and into the streams that run in and through this development — so much that the runoff has caused the out-of-control growth of duckweed. Ann Bunting now wants poisons to be sprayed into the water to kill this ''unsightly plant growth," thereby endangering the animal life that lives in the waters of these streams.
The association's board of directors are the problem and Mr. Gahagan has the right solution: less grass vegetation to fertilize. I support him.
Bill Thompson, Bayonet Point
An apology for time sheet error
In November 2009, I attended a city manager's conference in San Antonio, Texas, and spent hours on a crowded barge with the professionals who made the River Walk an international attraction. Recognizing that hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent on the waterfront development of Port Richey, to no avail, this seemed a prudent use of my time. I personally paid the hotel and airfare.
This conference took place over the Veterans Day holiday. I returned and asked the finance manager how to fill out the time sheet; I was told to fill out the 10 hours for the holiday (the city is on a four-day workweek) then fill out the time I spent on city business, which is a customary labor practice.
On Feb. 3, 2010, I accumulated 1.5 hours of compensatory time and wrote this on my time sheet. This figure remained on my time sheets for February, March, April and May. In June I used compensatory time, reduced prior accumulated compensatory time and rewrote the compensatory time list. Compensatory time accumulation is in chronological order. What had been 2/3/10 was mistakenly listed as 2/30/10 and fell between 1/24/10 and 2/4/10 in all of the photocopied compensatory time sheets from June to November 2010.
No other Port Richey city manager has ever kept written records of compensatory time. The current system is reviewed by three people before being signed by the mayor. We apologize for the error.
Ellen S. Posivach, city manager, city of Port Richey
Park policy unfair to permit holders
My wife and I paid our $60 Pasco parks yearly user fee without complaining. I see Rick Buckman, the parks director, is now playing us for saps for being honest. Buckman said he "will inform people and not write them up in the next few weeks." When the deputies wrote a few tickets, Mr. Buckman said, "The deputies are just doing their jobs but we're not calling them."
Why is Mr. Buckman so blind and can't see the unfairness of that policy? What he is doing (or not doing, whichever way you want to look at it) completely infuriates us. The pink signs at the pay booths all say the fees begin Nov. 22. Of course, without enforcement, this is now just pure nonsense. Why should anyone pay when they can get in free?
The Sheriff's Office is another thing. Spokesman Kevin Doll said "it's going to be a very low priority to write tickets." Now every time we go into a Pasco park we are going to be reminded of that statement when we see all the cars without permits. This will again start our stomachs churning in disgust.
Don Jacobs, New Port Richey
Not connections, but honesty, merit
The Times said I was not a qualified candidate for Hernando sheriff, since I had no previous experience as a law enforcement officer, plus, it indicated I was not part of the sheriff department's network and the deputy's labor union, nor did I make any effort to schmooze the local state senator.
That means I have no conflict of interest, am not dependent on a patronage system, and I did not attempt to lobby the local district politician. Contrary to what the newspaper implies, this all works in my favor — basing my candidacy on merit and integrity alone.
I offer my years of antiwar demonstrations and community activities, in the streets and inner cities of America, my work and living in the slums and ghettos of Latin America; and in the inner cities of two crime, murder and drug capitals of the nation (Newark, N.J., and Washington, D.C.), without carrying a weapon, nor without any other protection, as a comparable posture of courage and moral strength.
I also consider my academic training (master's degree in comparative government, law and society and public administration) and my 25 years of managerial experience in the private sector, exemplary credentials for the three-tiered administrative position of Hernando County sheriff.
More importantly, I consider it a badge of courage to not be part of the old boy network of Hernando County, or, for that matter, in Pasco County as well. I am also not dependent on the phrase, "It is not what you know, but who you know" which is the apparent implication running throughout the article.
Brian P. Moore, Spring Hill