County Commission needs to think about students
U.S. Census data places Florida 48th in the nation in per-pupil spending. That's attention-getting and makes me wonder whether the Hernando County commissioners were aware of Florida's track record on education funding when it voted 4-1 against reinstating education impact fees.
More importantly, are they fully aware of where Hernando County stands in Florida's education bread line? We're currently ranked 50th of 67 school districts. The state's median level of funding is $9,051 per student. Hernando schools receive $541 less than that. Florida Dept. of Education data here confirms our funding at $8,510 per student.
In the most recent school year we were $15 million below the median, and we've been underfunded for too many years. While it's true that the education impact fee revenue can only be applied to bricks and mortar, it's money that cannot build anything if it's never collected.
I wonder if the commissioners are aware of how many families have kids in our schools and expect local officials to earnestly represent them. We have 21,725 K-12 students and 2,977 school district employees educating them under austere budgetary restraints.
When our first home in Hernando County was built we understood the logic of the education impact fee and paid it. Why should anyone else be treated differently? I don't think anyone should be exempt, even if a handful of home builders insist that the sky is falling.
Honestly, before I moved here it never dawned on me to claim that it's best to spare newcomers (like me) the impact fee and pass my added expense along to the rest of the community. I wish I thought of it, but it never occurred to me that anyone would be dumb enough to believe that makes any sense.
I believe that high-quality education is the primary anchor for any community. A quality school system with a stellar reputation raises everyone's home values. I believe that corporations considering relocating their headquarters and employees look for places that represent economic opportunity; communities with well-educated work forces; communities where their employees will be glad to raise their children. Good schools create that enduring bond.
If commissioners want to see an economic catalyst, I encourage them to vote for education and invest in Hernando schools. Hernando should look west to Lake County and follow its example. In October they voted unanimously to reinstate education impact fees gradually, starting at $2,500 and eventually bringing it to $10,000. It's time for Hernando Commissioners to stop the cronyism and serve the greater good.
Gregg Laskoski, Spring Hill
Fluoride issue had fair hearing
Admittedly, the fluoride debate is contentious. With scientist hurling pejoratives at each other it can become difficult to see through the jargon. I was very pleased and proud to see two things in all of this. First, that the people of Hernando County researched the topic and came to a reasoned and logical conclusion; we do not want to take the risk in fluoridating the water. Thankfully the board agreed.
Next, the commissioners understood the personal liberty implications of forced medication and stood tall to protect the freedom of choice for the citizens. I disagree with the contention that the pro fluoride group was not given a fair hearing. We all heard Dr. Johnny Johnson's presentation loud and clear which informed us that fluoride makes the sun shine and the flowers grow. No wonder the commissioners had heard enough.
Anthony Connor, Spring Hill