Don't add IB seats in North Pinellas
A recent editorial complimented Pinellas school superintendent Julie Janssen's new proposal for expanding the number of International Baccalaureate seats but failed to address whether there was a need for opening another IB program at Countryside High School. What do the data say? The data say that there is no need for additional IB seats in the north county.
For the last three consecutive years, all qualified students who wanted to attend Palm Harbor IB were accepted within the first few weeks of 10th grade. Moreover, since 2006 the number of freshmen who remained on the wait list after first semester freshman year was between zero and 14. Currently, there are only 40 students on the ninth-grade waiting list. Additionally, remember that with the new IB program proposed to open in Largo High School next year, the wait list should be even smaller or eliminated.
Janssen should keep Palm Harbor IB whole and not waste taxpayers' money. If she wants a magnet for Countryside, the Countryside stakeholders should be consulted, the data analyzed, needs evaluated and options thoroughly investigated.
Kay Im, Tarpon Springs
Re: Pair hits $54.6M for TV ads | story, Oct. 28
Ad money could help community
Such a shame wasting money on these ads. I gave up listening to them a long time ago as they never truly address an issue. If they would have given half of that money to schools, libraries, police and fire departments and shown their interest in upgrading and maintaining those places, people would have had more respect and interest in voting for those candidates. Wouldn't it have been nice to hear the issues and how they expect to handle them? As it stands, I really don't have confidence in any of our top candidates.
Marlene Bedford, Clearwater
Clarifying Largo recreation budget
I am an active member for three years on Largo's Recreation, Parks and Arts Advisory Board. I feel compelled to write this letter to clarify some misperceptions out there about the department's budget.
In recent weeks, in various forums, it has been reported that the RPA Department's budget is $25 million — an astounding figure, yes. What hasn't been reported as much is that this number is not just the operating budget. Half is for a capital improvement project, the new Community Center.
Operating costs for fiscal year 2010 are estimated to be $10.6 million (estimated because the finance department hasn't closed out this fiscal year yet). Furthermore, out of this $10.6 million budget is the revenue that the city generates, estimated at more than $4.6 million. So true net operating expenses for this department are around $6 million.
Where does the revenue come from? Well, in short, from families such as my own. We enjoy a wide range of programs and services provided by Largo: Highland Aquatic Center for water days and birthday party rentals, Southwest Rec Center for summer camps, ticketed special events such as Flick and Float, swimming lessons at Southwest Pool, and attending affordable productions at the Largo Cultural Center. There are also additional sources of revenue generated from business sponsorships and a wide range of programs and services to attract paying senior citizens (such as the Community Center) and teens.
We also enjoy the beautiful and "free" aspects that Largo offers: Largo Central Park, its playground and the special events, which are regional draws, such as Touch-a-Truck in the spring, Movies in the Park in the summer, and of course, the Fourth of July celebration and the Halloween Spooktacular. (Each of these events brings approximately 30,000 people.)
The quality of Largo's recreational facilities and parks was the main reason my family chose to move here in 2003. The city's commitment to safe, quality, family-oriented activities is unsurpassed and well worth the cost.
Maria Kadau, Largo
Re: A priceless adventure of youth | story, Oct. 10
Youth's voyage is an inspiration
What a fantastic and inspired article about a young man living out a dream voyage in the South Pacific. Every young person should have an uncle who can mentor them on such an adventure before life adds the eventual responsibilities that make such a trip wishful thinking for most of us. The story was right out of a Jimmy Buffett song or a vintage 1940s travelogue film.
With all the vitriol currently in play due to upcoming elections, it was refreshing to read this article several times and have nothing but admiration for the people in this story. Well done!
Steve Donovan, Dunedin