Schools budget is bloated | Jan. 10, story
What do administrators actually do?
The administrative positions listed in your piece baffles me. What exactly does a chief academic officer do? Why is there a need for this position in addition to three associate superintendents for high, middle and elementary schools?
Most of these titles sound like assignments rather than jobs requiring daily tasks. Are school programs changing daily, requiring three superintendents and their staffs to prepare them?
What operations are covered by schools other than teaching? Why is it necessary to have a director of special projects, a principal on district assignments and an administrator of professional standards? In addition we have a director of physical education and driver education? Give me a break!
Ralph Szwarc, Belleair Bluffs
Anyone who has paid minimal attention to the news over the past 20 years knows that bureaucratic spending has grown much faster than inflation and population combined, so I'm not surprised by the size and depth of Pinellas County's educational bureaucracy.
Do we really need an associate superintendent of "school success"? Or four well-paid administrators — each with sizeable staff, no doubt — overlooking "facilities" and "operations"?
It would be very revealing to know which of these 24 positions existed 10 or 20 years ago, and what the administrative budget growth has been, compared with inflation and the change in student population.
Peter Ford, Tierra Verde
Schools budget is bloated | Jan. 10, story
Schools should eliminate the double-dipping
This front-page article includes information about administrators who retire and are then hired back and thus receive the same salary plus state retirement benefits. The article says that "some are hired back at six-figure salaries after the superintendent determines the district needs their years of expertise in a critical area."
An example given in the article is associate superintendent Ron Stone, who was brought back by former superintendent Clayton Wilcox. The article credits Stone with negotiating the district's contracts with labor unions for many years.
The current superintendent, Julie Janssen, said that she recently became aware that administrators could be brought back at a lower pay rate. School board member Carol Cook thinks they should be brought back at a reduced level, and board member Janet Clark thinks the old practice (same pay) should be stopped.
I submit that the practice that needs to be stopped is bringing them back — period. If an administrator has worked to retirement and hasn't trained someone to take over his/her job then I think he/she is a very poor administrator. It is very easy to justify the need for an administrator's expertise, and some administrators jealously guard their area of expertise. Sometimes it is tougher to develop the expertise in a new employee, but sometimes the expertise is enhanced with a new employee's perspective.
Stopping the practice would also open up jobs to some new employees who desperately need them, and might infuse some new, refreshing improvements into the operation.
Jerry R. Dangler, Palm Harbor
With the Legislature meeting to deal with the budget crisis, ruling out first and foremost any look at Florida's inequitable system of ad hoc tax preferences, while concentrating on cutting funds to children's health, hospitals and the developmentally disabled, the question isn't whether our legislators are prudent, it is whether they are even moral.
To prefer major corporations be free of sales taxes on the hundred-dollar-per-plate goodies they eat in skyboxes while cutting health care funding for children is immoral.
If our legislators' priorities are immoral, it is because we allow them to be. Their values represent ours.
Doug Bevins, Dade City
Time for lawmakers to act like grown-ups Jan. 6, letter
Allowance for snowbirds
The letter writer suggests that snowbirds pay a "user" fee, but many snowbirds own property and pay taxes. Would he suggest that municipal taxes be prorated to reflect that snowbirds only use the services half the time?
Janet Marr, Largo
Officials pull fast one | Jan. 10, editorial
Make violators pay
So the lawmakers pulled a fast one by seeking to increase traffic fines. Regardless of their reasoning, it is high time those drivers who show wanton disregard for human life by using excessive speed, running red lights and stop signs be made to pay — and pay dearly. The fines are ridiculously low for those offenses even with the proposed increase.
It is time we started treating those drivers as what they are: predators on those who obey the law. If officers refuse to write tickets, they should be suspended. If judges continue to cave in to smarmy lawyers with plea bargains, they should be impeached. Stop worrying about whether people can pay the fines because of their financial situation. There is a ready solution. Obey the traffic laws. Pretty simple, huh?
Wes Eustice, Lakeland
No one cares and Nothing to celebrate Jan. 7, letters
It's nothing new
Where have the two letter writers been on the New Year baby and teen pregnancy! The majority of infants born in my Tampa Bay county are to unwed parents, and a lot of them are under 21.
It was a shock to come from Maryland where I worked in a hospital that saw 5,000 births a year, where at least 90 percent were married with private insurance, and then come to Florida and find only 10 percent have private insurance and 90 percent are "unmarried" and on public funds for payment of the birth care.
The majority receiving public funds for birth in our country are white, and not married and have no private insurance, so they live for years and have many children "unmarried" under public pay funds. If it weren't for public payment, the hospitals would have no payment at all.
Judy Thompson, Spring Hill
Nothing to celebrate | Jan. 7, letter
New parents need support
I was appalled at the mean-spirited comment in this letter. The first baby means just that! The letter writer knows nothing of the circumstances of this young couple. No matter the age, all new parents need help and support with a new baby. Congratulations to this young family.
Elizabeth Escobar, Tampa
Baby barely slows French jurist | Jan. 9, story
A poor decision
Oh, that poor little baby. I find it absolutely reprehensible that the French justice minister reported back to work so soon after giving birth. It is not admirable. It is sad that she must care so little about the well-being of her newborn baby. Maternity leave is necessary not only for the baby, but for the mother, too.
It is obvious that she has poor decisionmaking skills. I shudder to think of what other poor choices she has made that could affect all of France.
Cyndi Raskin Schmitt, Dunedin
Citrus, peeled with a kiss | Jan. 5
It brought great pleasure to my wife and me to read your article describing the success of Bill Burchenal and his CeeBee's Citrus company. It is wonderful to see the results of his diligent hard work on this beautiful grove.
Your article was accurate in every respect. Bill has succeeded in creating a grove and shipping program that is outstanding. We know that he and his employees are dedicated to producing their products as the "best." All you have to do is try them.
You will never find a harder worker or a more modest man than Bill Burchenal.
Charles Barber, Belleair