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Letters: Teachers pay for flaws in system

Re: Popular teacher forced to retire | story, March 23

Teachers pay for flaws in system

Remember that one teacher who made an impact in your life? Today, several of these outstanding teachers are like Bob O'Donnell. The state Deferred Retirement Option Program, or DROP, was presented to them as a positive retirement benefit with an extension of three years to get them to retirement age. Now the school district is strapped for cash and extensions are being denied.

Some fortunate teachers have reapplied and are rehired on a yearly basis, receiving DROP benefits, retirement benefits and full salary! Wouldn't it be less expensive to just grant these teachers their extension? These teachers are not trying to double dip the system. Their long careers in Pinellas County weren't based on great pay but on a genuine desire to teach and to make a change in a child's life.

I know a great man and teacher, Bill Broome. He has been a physical education teacher in Pinellas County for 36 years — 32 years at Safety Harbor Elementary. His skills may not be academic, but he has taught life skills, teamwork, built confidence and showed young children how to build and follow their dreams. Mr. Broome is in the same situation as Mr. O'Donnell.

School Board members need to re-evaluate their extension policy. Until then, I will watch Mr. Broome drive off to school tomorrow remembering the good and staying passionate about his calling to teach.

Stephany Broome, Dunedin

Re: Popular teacher forced to retire | story, March 23

Teachers joined system for money

I would hope that all of us in the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) are popular teachers before we retire. In order to get into DROP, one has to initiate the process by requesting it, talking about it with a knowledgeable person and being fully aware that once the paperwork is in and approved, you start your five-year process and are fully retired after that.

We all get into this for the same purpose: money. It allows us to create a nice nest egg while being employed and receiving all the benefits. Explaining to your students why you're leaving is easy. Tell the truth about the decision that was made five years prior. No one twists an arm to make you do so.

The School Board, superintendent or Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association needs to get involved.

As for getting denied an extension, every teacher, at the time he gets into DROP, usually knows if his academic area is a critical need.

Let's get real about what was done, enjoy the nest egg and move on.

Dr. Joseph J. Acotto, Dunedin

Re: Popular teacher forced to retire

A teacher who made a difference

I am a graduate of East Lake High School, class of '92. Recently, I was informed of the improper, immoral and unjust forced retirement of Robert O'Donnell.

I was a student of Mr. O'Donnell's from 1989 to 1992. He was more than a teacher; in fact, "teacher" does not do him justice. Mentor, friend, counselor and hero — these words do him justice. He touched our minds, hearts and souls!

I am troubled to learn that the Pinellas County school superintendent is forcing him to retire. Obviously, he never took his class. I was an average student who worked harder just to be able to attend his honors classes and I am a better person for having taken his classes. I just feel sorry for those students who will miss the opportunity to have been bettered by a legend.

Thank you, Mr. O'Donnell.

Christopher Bell,

Las Vegas, Nevada

Where were

the lifeguards?

On Easter Sunday, my husband and I decided to spend the afternoon at Pinellas County's Sand Key Park in Clearwater along with thousands of other people. For the volume of people that were at the beach, the county should have had lifeguards on duty. They collect a large sum of money from all the parking meters during this busy season, so I feel there should be lifeguards on duty, especially when many visitors may not be aware of water conditions.

After spending an hour and a half at the beach, we decided to leave. Approaching the walkway back to the parking lot, I spotted a woman walking in the sea oats hiding Easter eggs. She was obviously going to have an egg hunt in the sea oats.

I called out to her, telling her there was a sign that says no walking in the sea oats and she looked at me with a blank stare. She perhaps did not speak English and did not know what I was saying. I tried looking for a park police officer to alert him to the situation in the sea oats area but could find no one to speak with.

Who was in charge on this busy Easter Day?

Jackie Kosnikowski, Clearwater

State no longer cares for natives

Why should I care about the Shoppes on Sand Key, parking for Clearwater Beach or a trolley to get there? It was made very clear to me years ago that the Pinellas Suncoast is no longer for the natives but rather the northern transplants. Parking lots close at dusk. Causeways close at dusk. It's not insurance rates or threats or storms that are causing people to leave.

Someone should let Tallahassee know the theme is no longer "The Sunshine State." It is now more appropriate that Florida be called "The Gray Hair State."

Tom Ogle, Clearwater

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Letters: Teachers pay for flaws in system 03/29/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 3, 2008 7:51am]
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