Budget mistakes keep being made
Regarding the Pinellas County Schools budget crisis, today's issues are more disturbing to many because they weren't solved last year. The School Board has, in my opinion, lacked vision and as a result took actions that were not consistent with future constraints.
Look at the recent errors:
• The board did not fire the district's attorney as requested by the former superintendent.
• The board enacted the seven-period schedule for middle schools in violation of the teachers' contract.
• The board provided transportation to school for grandfathered students.
• The board built new schools and at the same time it was closing schools.
The grandfathering provision and transportation for grandfathered students was a significant error which now has to be corrected.
Likely the (former) board wanted to keep as many people as possible happy. The function of the board is to provide quality education, not please the parents.
I recommend that all students be assigned to their neighborhood schools, which means grandfathering is completely eliminated. No transportation to schools other than the neighborhood schools.
While painful now, it will eliminate future pain and ensure stability for the students from next year forward.
Parents should become part of the solution and not be the problem. Children are very resilient, and if their parents view the changes positively, so will the students.
Much pain will be eliminated with a positive attitude by all.
Frederick Savalli, Clearwater
Wrong things being protested
It would seem to me that those parents who are expending energy protesting proposed school closures and others protesting the end of grandfathering are not looking at the budget.
The choice program broke the bank and no, students should not be bused to schools outside their neighborhoods. The deal breaker was the choice program to begin with, the added year due to the indolence of the School Board, and the agreement to grandfather.
Return to common sense: neighborhood schools and lots and lots of accountability, including keeping the FCAT. Get rid of bad teachers and encourage more nationally certified teachers with, say, a bonus. Money doesn't make one more talented, but is a small reward to those who take their certification and use it to enhance their skills.
Mrs. Harriet P. Sherwood, Clearwater
Curtains for theater group? story, Nov. 29
Please help West Coast Players
After reading the article regarding the hardships being faced by our partner, the West Coast Players, and their difficulties in opening their beautiful new theater building, I cannot help but ask the community to open its heart to this worthwhile community theater group and help them in this time of need.
For over a decade, the West Coast Players have been an integral and impressive part of the Tampa Bay community. They have provided top-notch productions in many locations throughout North Pinellas. They even go as far as to provide entertainment to assisted living facilities and provide opportunities to young actors wanting to "learn the ropes."
They embody every word in the definition of a true "community theater," and it is unfortunate how their venture has turned out. The people behind the West Coast Players are some of the most hardworking, dedicated actors in this community.
In this holiday season, I encourage the people of our communities to show their support and help them. Community theaters like them are too hard to come by, and they are one of the many facets that make our communities what they are.
Mathew J. Eberius, president and co-founder, Showcase Arts Foundation Inc., Dunedin
Keep windows on buses free of ads
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is again turning our public buses into billboards on wheels and they are covering our bus windows with commercial advertising after promising in 2005 they would discontinue doing so.
This visual obstruction on the windows recklessly endangers the physical, mental and financial well-being of all bus passengers. The PSTA is self-insured. This recklessness could financially affect all the citizens of Pinellas County.
The PSTA buys a new bus and then paints the windows with advertising. This sounds like misappropriation of tax revenues when they visually impair the passengers. PSTA funding comes from property taxes (over $40-million), fares (over $10-million) plus state and federal grants (over $5-million). Does the PSTA leadership really think they can take our money and force us to ride in buses with painted windows that impair our vision?
The PSTA executive director and its attorney signed an employment contract to provide a safe, healthy and encompassing transportation system for the citizens of Pinellas County. The board members swore an oath to do to the same.
A second contract sold the exterior of a new bus to a business for advertising. The advertisement included painting the windows, which created a visual impairment for the passengers and driver. Contract law prohibits signing two contracts at the same time if they cause a serious conflict like visually impairing bus passengers. They can't honor both contracts because of this conflict.
They have a choice: They can resign or they can impound the buses and remove the advertisement from the windows. The advertising contracts can be prorated and revenue refunded. The board needs to act now and clean up its mistake.
To stop this abuse, the state Legislature must pass a bill prohibiting advertising on the windows of all public transit buses in the state. The citizens of Pinellas County don't want billboards lining our streets or billboards running up and down our streets. We don't want paint on the bus windows. The only thing we want on our bus windows is soap and water. Clean those windows, PSTA.
Charles F. Shank, Clearwater