School plans bring outcry | Dec. 4, story
Kids can deal with change
For the people whining about the Pinellas school district closing schools and reducing busing: Get over it.
Young kids are much more resilient than you think. They will adjust just fine, meet some new and interesting people and learn about change, which will probably help them in the long run. The district has limited funds. We must consolidate and reduce our expenses by closing half-used schools to get better funding for the ones we have left.
We are also wasting an incredible amount of money busing kids all over town. Busing adds no value to your kid's education. This Rube Goldberg system that has developed is the most ineffective way to spend taxpayer money. When kids spend up to three hours a day on a bus, they learn nothing productive, get in trouble and end up spending less time in school activities because they are too far from their school to be involved.
The resources now used for busing should be put into better teachers and activities at the local schools where they can actually help students and create a better community around our existing schools.
Jeremiah Rohr, St. Petersburg
Promises should be kept
I really thought this issue was a proverbial "dead horse." However, I also understand that the budget crunch necessitates exhuming the body for further beating.
Given that the sole purpose of these proposals is to cut expenses, I respectfully suggest that students who do not ride school buses be allowed to remain in their current school. What is the point of making these children play musical chairs if there is no financial benefit to the district?
Furthermore, the Pinellas County school district's strategic plan professes "Commitment to children, families, and the community, respectful and caring relationships, cultural competence, trustworthiness, responsibility, connectedness." In this document trustworthiness means to "maintain the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and honesty" and responsibility means "fulfilling commitments and promises …"
A promise was made to "grandfathered" students last year that they would be allowed to remain at their current school. It seems clear that these ideals would be violated if the board revokes this promise.
Bruce Peavler, Dunedin
School plans bring outcry | Dec. 4, story
Where's the respect?
It seems with every new year Pinellas County residents get a new student assignment plan. After much upset last year, the School Board created a new student assignment plan based on neighborhood schools. The plan was actually good. The maps zoned families to logical close-to-home schools and respect was given to families that wanted to remain in existing schools.
The board has changed the assignment plan five times in six years. All of these changes affect thousands of children. Magnet schools and fundamentals are exempt from all of these concerns. Families in those programs are given respect and continuity in their education that all of us deserve.
I strongly urge the board to show some respect to those of us in neighborhood schools and give us some stability and predictability. Keep grand-fathering for existing and younger siblings. Do away with the transportation if you must — families that really want children to remain in a school will find a way to get them there.
Additionally, if the board cannot find the decency to treat families in neighborhood schools with the same respect as families in magnets and fundamentals, the board should open enough seats at these schools to eliminate waiting lists. These seats should be placed in schools accessible to neighborhoods as lack of proximity is a huge deterrent to the vast majority of families.
Thora L. Cook, St. Petersburg
After reading the A section Thursday morning, I had to wrinkle my nose and scratch my head, being quite perplexed about what I was reading. One article depicted the anguish of a parent whose "poor little baby" would have to suffer the trauma of having to make new friends due to being forced to attend a different school.
Another article was about a father with four children who was evicted from his home. A picture showed the foreclosed home with their piled up furniture out front.
The family was probably worried about their future, but we can look at it in another way. These four children won't have to endure the trauma of having to make new friends. Food for thought folks!
Fred Sellers, Madeira Beach
Neighbors in need
Sadly, we continue to walk past the thousands of hungry and homeless men women and children, even entire families, who are now fixtures on our city streets, wearing blinders with little or no compassion for the real faces of homelessness.
As funding tightens statewide and the economic outlook for our state continues to decline, we can only anticipate that the numbers of homeless will continue to rise. In Hillsborough County we place the number of homeless currently at around 11,000 to 12,000. Yes. Thousand!
We have approximately 1,500 shelter beds available, most of them only accessible to those who have the $10 nightly fee. This means that we have potential shelter for only a fraction of the current homeless population in the county who happen to have some cash.
Many of the local agencies help as far as their resources will go, but there is no one in our community right now who has the resources to even make a dent in this sad plight of our neighbors. Yes, I said neighbors. Contrary to the belief that many people come here to be homeless because the weather is nicer than other places, the facts are that more than 80 percent of the homeless population currently in our community are from here!
We have set up such barriers to provide minimal services to the homeless by a lack of funding, exclusionary zoning and our own prejudices that the men, women and children who now wander our streets looking for a bite to eat and a place to bathe may never make it off the streets and into safety.
Please think about this the next time you see someone on the streets of Tampa. Please offer your respect to them (and maybe even a dollar) and pray that it is not you and your family who may one day find themselves living in an inoperable vehicle.
Sara Romeo, CEO, Tampa Crossroads Inc., Tampa
Governor backs off a bit | Nov. 26
I have been fuming the past week every time I drive my '89 Volkswagen with 150,000 miles on it because I do not have "two Lexuses in the driveway." Instead I go to the mailbox to get tax and insurance bills that have not "dropped like a rock." I see water rates that are out of control, and now Progress Energy wants to add to our misery.
Instead of lowering the millage rate on taxes during the "boom," irresponsible government fed their utopian diets with our burdensome tax dollars. I've seen renters suddenly able to buy a house with no money down at a payment much higher than the rent they could barely pay.
No wonder this state and economy are in such dire straits. Look at the brain power running the show! They are out of touch with reality.
My aunt and uncle left Florida in 1982 because they felt it was a ripoff state. They were right!
Douglas Kopitzke, St. Petersburg
The Hills, The Real World, Laguna Beach and reality shows such as Rock of Love all highly influence today's youth.
These television shows reel children in by advertising drama, conflicted disputes and tall, pretty revealingly dressed females. The down side is that kids start to talk like the "actors" on these shows. They start to act, dress and talk older than their age. This leads to growing up too fast.
Girls at the age of 13 are already wearing attire that reveals too much because of these shows. Most say they do it because they want to be "popular" and to "fit in," but why go through so much trouble to be someone you aren't?
The world has changed over the past few years and as the years go on these changes will lead to the lack of a childhood for children who are influenced by television.
Bridget Tran, Oldsmar