Commission puts schools, kids last
March 11 was a very sad day for Hernando County schools and its children. In a 4-1 decision the county commissioners voted to delay collecting school impact fees on new home construction from developers for one more year.
It became very evident that: The "good old boy" mentality was alive and well; a small group of business people, builders, and developers run this county; the people are not represented by their elected officials and the burden of financial support for schools is going to fall on those who have the least to give. The rich will just get richer, the poor will just get taxed more.
We naively thought if we met with each commissioner we could find someone who would hear what we said and actually comprehend the severity of the financial situation that faces Hernando County Schools.
But, when we tried to explain to Commissioner Nick Nicholson he made it emphatically clear that he did not care. When asked if the commissioners' reinstatement of road impact fees was an indicator that they put roads above our children, he yelled, "I do not care."
When we tried to explain that there was not a decline in student growth because there were over 1,000 children in public charter, private, or virtual schools and that we had to make sure by law we had space, his voice grew even louder, "I do not care. I will vote against it.''
Thank you, Diane Rowden, for your lone vote of support.
If the first thing that businesses and people check out when relocating are public schools, why is the commission putting schools last? What good are widened and resurfaced roads, if there if no one here to ride on them? What good are newly built homes, if there is no one here to live in them?
Jo Ann Hartge, president, Hernando Classroom Teachers Association
Hospice patients deserve options
In response to the Agency for Health Care Administration's recent approval for Hospice of Citrus and the Nature Coast to expand services into Hernando County, Hernando Pasco Hospice (HPH) has filed a petition for a formal administrative hearing to contest the approval. In effect, the HPH challenge attempts to ensure that the people of Hernando County do not have a choice of provider at the end of life.
Hernando Pasco Hospice completed an application to provide services in Citrus County in 2004 and opened their first Citrus location in 2008, stating that choice is important to the quality of patient care. We agreed with that position given that optimum patient choice resides at the core of excellent hospice care.
Citing potential need for broader services for Hernando County residents with terminal illnesses, the nonprofit Hospice of Citrus and the Nature Coast filed a letter of intent with the Agency for Health Care Administration, signaling our interest in expanding to Hernando County.
In that filing, I said, "The letter of intent is not a criticism of the hospice which serves Hernando County; many counties, including Citrus, have more than one hospice provider."
It is disappointing, however, that HPH, through its petition, is clearly advocating a position that would afford patient and family choice in every other service area statewide except their own. This petition represents a complete reversal by HPH from its previous position that "patient choice" is vital and that all good things happen on the service side when people are afforded provider choice.
The most recent Florida Need Projections for Hospice Programs, published April 2013 by the Agency for Health Care Administration, indicates a growing unmet need for hospice services in Hernando County. Since 2009, the number of admissions for hospice services in Hernando County has declined while the population has increased.
It is expected that the number of people over age 65 will increase 15.23 percent by 2018, creating a need for more hospice services. Another hospice in Hernando County would provide patients with more services and more choices.
Anthony J. Palumbo, chief executive officer, Hospice of Citrus and the Nature Coast