Marchman Tech moves not needed
Students in Pasco County will lose some of their options if proposed changes are made for next school year, and it is not even necessary.
A plan is being put in place to move several successful programs from Marchman Technical Education Center to individual high schools. In doing so, hundreds of students will be denied access to these programs. Criminal justice, culinary arts, health services and veterinarian technology assistant programs are being shipped out to individual high schools. The moves will restrict a student's choice from other high schools.
Currently, it takes 25 students from seven highs schools to support a program session at Marchman. It will take 125 students to support an academy at an individual high school.
The programs being moved are all meeting their student enrollment counts and have been very successful in placing students in our community job market, post-secondary schools and the military. Criminal justice alone has accounted for more than 8,500 community service volunteer hours this year. Those will be lost if the programs are moved or changed. Our community will have to pick up this in some way and those students lose the hands-on learning experiences these activities provide.
Academies have merit and are certainly successful and needed in certain geographical locations with strong community and business support. There is no need, however, to dismantle several highly successful programs to see if any academy will work at a single high school.
Leave all the programs where they are and as they are. Start the academies at the ninth- or 10th-grade levels and see if the enrollment, community and business support will be what is needed to support them. If so, expand the program. No need to dismantle several highly successful programs on a guess or a hope. I have seen too many programs, funds and staff sacrificed on "this will work, trust me.'' Ask some parents, students or graduates of these program for some input. I understand the decision was made before this was even mentioned to the students or current instructors.
I think all decisions should be based on what is in the best interests of students. Taking away the opportunity of students at seven high schools to take advantage of the Marchman programs is, by far, not in their best interests. This appears to be a major oversight or someone's personal or political agenda at the expense of students.
I urge the School Board and superintendent to consider the hundreds of students who have been successful in these programs and, if this plan is implemented, the hundreds who won't get the chance.
Are students really the first priority?
J. Steve Luikart, New Port Richey
Thanks to Farm Share volunteers
On Dec. 18, our office, in conjunction with the office of Rep. John Legg and the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, held our annual Farm Share Holiday Food Giveaway in Pasco County. Every year, Florida farmers and the Farm Share Program donate a truckload of produce and other goods that are distributed to local families who need food for the holiday season.
The day was a great success, providing food for more than 500 families. The food giveaway continues to be a success because of the commitment and involvement of many people who volunteer their time to spread some holiday cheer to these families.
There were dozens of volunteers from organizations including the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the Pasco County Explorer's program, the New Port Richey Police Department, the Suncoast Epilepsy Association and the Knights of Columbus Council 5869.
Lowe's of New Port Richey donated the forklift and operator to unload the food and the managers at Trinity Self Storage were gracious enough to host the event in their parking lot. Students and teachers from Chasco Elementary and Middle School and Dayspring Academy collected canned goods for the event. Brian Singletary and his staff at the Southgate Publix provided hams and potatoes at a reduced cost to compliment the produce of Farm Share.
Everyone helped make this event a success and we look forward to continuing the food giveaway for years to come.
Mike Fasano, Florida State Senator, District 11