Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Letters To The Editor

Letters to the editor: Pasco County Schools

School wish lists? Budget is first

The May 13 Pasco Times front page was really like an Alice in Wonderland trip.

On the right side of Page 1 was a story with a bold, black headline stating "Schools draft magnet wish list." The story goes on in great detail about the plans that 10 schools submitted to become schools of innovation.

On the left side of Page 1 in small black type was a notice that the School Board was holding public meetings to elicit suggestions for handling a projected budget short fall of $26 million.

I really wonder about how focused the School Board and administration are.

Funding for new programs and planning for programs is really important but not when we are not willing to fund what we have now. The time has come for all educators to put our money where their mouths are.

Everyone agrees that education is the highest priority that we have in this country and in Pasco County, yet we hesitate to fund it, we don't pay our teachers (they have not had a raise in four years) and we plan for the future forgetting today.

To make things worse the FCAT writing scores have declined this year. Maybe instead of planning for magnet schools we should hire some writing teachers to teach our kids.

I understand that spending $200,000 to consider magnet schools is a drop in the bucket in a multimillion-dollar budget, but it could pay for a writing teacher.

I really hope people tell the board members that we are worried. Ask them to set priorities and maybe even have the courage to raise the tax rate so we can have teachers paid a living wage and students given the tools to make the most of their education.

Joan Shapiro, Hudson

A four-day week could save money

The Pasco County School Board is again looking for input on how to save $26 million. The district has already spent a considerable amount of time exploring options yet the best option is being ignored. One solution to saving the district some of that $26 million is to go to a four-day school week.

Through town hall meetings and public surveys, parents, teachers and students alike lauded the idea of a four-day school week. According to the public survey conducted for the district by Hanover Research, 45 percent of respondents were either strongly in favor or in favor of a modified school week and 37 percent were either strongly opposed or opposed. Results of the Hanover survey are available on the district's website. (Editor's note: Go to links.tampabay.com to see the survey results.) I have attended the town hall meetings where a representative sampling of Pasco County citizens have spoken in favor of the option. Have those speeches fallen on deaf ears?

Some parents may be concerned by child care issues. Child care would be handled by Pasco's PLACE program, which is less expensive than private day care and can employ Pasco school employees. Hillsborough County parents have worked with similar child care issues due to monthly teacher planning days, when students are released early. Pasco parents can make the same concessions.

Studies show that there is no decrease in learning with a four-day school week. In fact, there is an increase in efficiency of learning. Although the Pasco Sheriff's Office reported a projected 2 percent increase over 10 years, studies have also shown no change in the crime rate.

There are hundreds of schools operating on a four-day week in the United States. Schools that have a four-day school week have an increase in attendance for both students and staff, morale increases, student achievement improves and the number of referrals and dropouts declines.

Why the district is not respecting the option that has already been considered, I do not know. We have a solution. Let's use it.

Tracey Suits, Land O'Lakes

A magnet model at Dayspring

It appears that Pasco County students will soon be offered more learning opportunities with magnet-themed schools added to the district. The magnet-themed school model will provide students and families within Pasco County additional innovative learning opportunities.

The model, however, is not new to our county. Since 2000, as the first magnet-themed school in the district, Dayspring Academy for Education and the Arts has utilized a research-based model of parental involvement and the arts with tremendous success.

This magnet-themed model focuses on five key components: Parental choice and requiring parents' engagement in their children's education; developing a culture of high academic standards to allow children to excel; integration of the arts in the school curriculum; promoting high moral and character standards within the school; and maintaining a high level of teacher quality.

I wish the Pasco County School District success as it takes the next step in providing high quality, parental choice education.

Rep. John Legg, Port Richey

Animal Services needs your help

While most moms spent Monday morning telling their co-workers about the flowers, cards and gifts they received from their beloved families, at Pasco County Animal Services two beautiful mama cats, their kittens and a total of 28 cats and dogs were scheduled to be euthanized.

Meanwhile, the beautiful $3.5 million state-of-the-art, 12,000-square-foot adoption center with the capacity to hold 78 dogs and as many cats, is not even half full. Why?

Look at the Facebook page for Pasco County Animal Services Adoption Partners. Go to their photo section and see a folder of "adoptables," which contains only 35 or so dogs and cats. Then check out the "urgent dogs" and "urgent cats" folders — there are 54 animals total. These are the animals that are either found as strays or surrendered by their owners. The strays have 72 hours before they are killed; the surrenders have 48 hours if they are lucky. The hope is that rescue organizations in the area will step up and take these animals.

Local rescues have already stepped up to take many of these animals and volunteer cross-posters spent their Mother's Day working tirelessly to network these animals and hopefully save more.

In the "gone but not forgotten" folder are more than 140 cats and dogs killed in less than two months. Yet there is no logic to which is put to sleep. A perfectly healthy animal will be put to sleep yet recently a beautiful Husky was brought in who was hit by a car and was left to suffer all weekend until a rescue organization took her to their vet at a cost of $6,000. Some animals seem to get several days/weeks, others just hours. Why are more of these animals not selected for the adoption program?

Please help us draw attention to this terrible situation. These animals deserve so much better. The funds are there. The help is there. What is lacking is some organization.

Joanne Wilde, Largo

Thank you, Pasco Fire Rescue

I want to commend the actions of the fine men and women who serve the citizens of Pasco County through the Pasco County Fire Rescue. The professional and caring manner with which they conduct their services could not have been better expressed than during the recent 111-acre fire in Hudson. The dedication and exemplary skills secured the safety of all our residents. This no-injury feat is a remarkable testament to their determination and aptitude.

The dispatch center handled the overwhelming responsibility with calm and unequaled professionalism. The command center at Station 10 operated efficiently and with determination that successfully saved the many homes in Club Wildwood Mobile Home Park and, doubtless, lives also.

Thomas B. Dobies, New Port Richey

Comments

Wednesday’s letters: Proposal would restore Florida Forever funding

Florida ForeverPlan boosts land protectionMost of us thought funding for land conservation in Florida would be restored when we voted the Water and Land Conservation Amendment (Amendment 1) into law in 2014. It passed easily, with 75 percent of voter...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Tuesday’s letters: Writer should look to his own mistakes

Is anyone ever wrong anymore? | Dec. 8Writer should look to own errorsIn Mitch Daniels’ article about people who have been wrong, he finishes with the statement that our lives would be greatly improved with more people saying, "I was wrong."He mi...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Monday’s letters: Don’t drill in Arctic refuge

Arctic National Wildlife RefugeStop plan to drill for oil in refugeOur nation faces yet another effort to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge reserve to oil and gas drilling. Drilling in the Arctic simply doesn’t make sound financial sense. W...
Published: 12/08/17

Sunday’s letters: Tax bill puts U.S. on right course

The GOP’s regressive tax plans | Dec. 5, editorialTax bill puts U.S. on right courseThe Times is already crying wolf over the new tax cuts, claiming that the new laws "could" result an increase in the national debt of $1.5 trillion over the next ...
Published: 12/07/17

Saturday’s letters: Don’t inject political money into churches

Tax billKeep political cash out of pulpitA provision buried in the 429-page House tax bill, Section 5201, nullifies the Johnson Amendment, which protects houses of worship from partisan politics by prohibiting them from endorsing or opposing politica...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Friday’s letters: Most unpopular tax bill ever

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3The most unpopular tax bill ever"Democracy dies in darkness" is the motto of the Washington Post. At 2 a.m. on the dark morning of Sunday, Dec. 3, 51 Republicans approved the most wildly unpopular tax bill in U.S. h...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Thursday’s letters: Give your child the gift of reading

Fatherhood Involvement in Literacy CampaignGive your child the gift of readingPart of a successful game plan in sports is identifying plays that can put points on the scoreboard. Whether I was playing quarterback at Florida State or running the point...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Wednesday’s letters: Bill gives small businesses tax relief

Tax bill clears Senate | Dec. 3Small businesses get tax reliefThe Senate and House have now passed their respective tax bills. Once Congress sends a final package to the White House, President Donald Trump will deliver us the most powerful tax re...
Published: 12/04/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Tuesday’s letters: Transplant bill will help Medicare patients

November Letter of the MonthThe winning letter addressed the unresponsiveness of elected officials.Representatives aren’t listeningFor whom do our legislators work? I ask because my Florida senator doesn’t appear to work for me. I drove 27 miles on N...
Published: 12/04/17

Monday’s letters: A citizen’s heroic act

Suspect arrested | Nov. 29A courageous citizen’s actOn Nov. 28, a courageous act occurred in the Tampa Bay area. It was one that law enforcement professionals applaud and hope becomes more frequent. An ordinary citizen did the right thing and spo...
Published: 12/01/17