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Pinellas schools need some fresh leadership

Don't delay filling job | April 19, editorial

Pinellas schools need fresh leadership

I don't know that the Pinellas County School Board should move quickly to replace Dr. Clayton Wilcox with an interim leader from within the district.

Admittedly, when an organization promotes from within it usually leads to an increase in motivation and a high level of morale among its workers.

However, what should concern us is the 64 percent high school graduation rate, the number of 3rd grade students who cannot read at grade level, the gap between black and white students and the dismal status of special education provided to the students in the district.

The last 40 years of promotion from within (Dr. Wilcox's appointment notwithstanding) have produced the kind of institutional inbreeding that has resulted in a lack of new ideas and a lack of creativity that is desperately needed to successfully address these glaring deficiencies in the current system.

If we were building cars, would we hire executives who were part of a system that managed to produce cars that only worked 64 percent of the time? We would be out of business in no time.

Frans van Haaren, St. Petersburg

Stick to the contract

The Pinellas County School Board should not let superintendent Clayton Wilcox break his contract. What kind of message does that send to dedicated students, parents and teachers? Ironically, we teach students that they are supposed to follow through, complete assignments, fulfill commitments, be honest. Doesn't this also apply to Wilcox?

His "passion" was supposed to be his concern for this county and its students, which he has been handsomely paid for. Instead he sends the lack-of-integrity message to all that money rules at all costs. How can students learn about ethics and character if Wilcox is allowed to not give his required five-month notice and be accountable to a legal contract?

Marcia Andrews, St. Petersburg

Wilcox's departure

will be a loss for schools

Why is anyone surprised that a good school superintendent is leaving Pinellas County? Those women on the School Board would drive anyone insane with their bickering and sniping all the time. There is not one of them who truly cares about the children in Pinellas County, let alone respects anyone who does.

I am very sad to see Clayton Wilcox go. The students here in Pinellas are losing a true champion for their cause.

My congratulations to Wilcox. I hope he will be much more appreciated in his new position than he was in this one.

Sylvia Fies, St. Petersburg

Interest high in replacing Wilcox | April 19, story

A search is too costly

Let me see if I get this straight: Five of our Pinellas School Board members are interested in conducting a national or, at least, a state search for a new superintendent.

With what money? Teachers may not be getting a raise for the next two years, and five of the board members want to spend the money for a search when we have not one, but three, viable candidates. It seems to me Linda Lerner and Mary Brown are the only School Board members in touch with the true situation: that the teachers would be up in arms to think "their" money during such a tight year would be handed over for a national search, the kind that got us in this mess in the first place!

Dr. Scott Rose and Dr. Howard Hinesley, the two former superintendents, were promoted from within the county. I feel they did more for us financially, educationally and philosophically than Dr. Wilcox could even think of doing. I would take either back in a heartbeat!

Cindy Gamblin, Dunedin

See the job through

Dr. Clayton Wilcox needs to fulfill his contract requirement of five months' notice. Although unpopular for his management style among colleagues, he finally gave the voters what they have wanted for decades: neighborhood schools. He also pursued consistent start times and less busing, all directly related to neighborhood schools. He needs to see that these plans go forward smoothly and ensure that the new hire is an ardent supporter of these goals. The voters do not need a new superintendent with a new agenda.

I am personally very disappointed that Dr. Wilcox is leaving. I am a St. Petersburg native who attended the schools during court-ordered busing. I have three children in the district now and had high hopes for neighborhood schools. To leave in the midst of all these changes appears cowardly.

Thora L. Cook, St. Petersburg

Don't go nuclear

How can Gov. Crist and our legislators continue to support new nuclear power plants, when, as reported in the Times, it could put a multibillion-dollar burden on those who pay Florida's electric bills?

Worse yet, what about the potential dangers of nuclear power? A Times article reported that 65,243 workers in U.S. nuclear weapons plants have suffered illnesses related to their work and filed claims for compensation resulting in $3.3-billion payout so far.

Also, a Times Hurricane Preparedness Guide warned that disasters can be tornadoes or "nuclear power accidents at Crystal River." There are also serious concerns about the disposal of nuclear waste.

We humans can't control hurricanes or tornadoes, but each one of us can urge our elected officials to recognize the risks of "going nuclear" and instead invest in more research to make renewable and safe energy such as solar power successful.

David and Constance Cylkowski, St. Petersburg

Man starts Web site to catch cat's killer

April 16, story

Leash your pets

First, let me tell you that I am a cat person. I find it difficult to feel sorry for this cat owner, though. His cat was outside and not on a leash. There is a leash law in Florida for all pets, including cats.

I do not in any way condone what happened to Amy the cat. The man who beat her to death should be prosecuted on animal cruelty charges. But the cat owner should be cited for letting his pets run loose outside. I hope that in the future he will think twice before letting his other two cats go outside without being on a leash.

Marcie Musgrave, Tarpon Springs

Time is ripe to nab a thieving raccoon | April 19, Sue Carlton column

Raccoon vs. human

Thanks to Sue Carlton for putting a smile on my face (again). I can't wait to read the story of her nighttime raccoon/pineapple vigil! In the interest of funny stories though, I'm not sure for whom to root! May the best mammal win!

Wanda Vinson, Tampa

Pinellas schools need some fresh leadership 04/21/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 8:44am]
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