Re: June 11 C.T. Bowen column
What is motive for Gadd's firing?
I read your column regarding Ray Gadd's firing and couldn't agree with your opinion any more strongly. I have been a resident of Pasco County since 1982 and have two college-age children who are the products of the Pasco County public school system. I am also a lifelong Democrat and a longtime friend of Ray Gadd.
I have had the privilege of working with Ray on the Penny for Pasco campaign and through my involvement with the Pasco Education Foundation and the Pasco Economic Development Council. Ray Gadd is one of the finest and most dedicated public servants I have ever had the privilege of knowing. In his position as district assistant superintendent, he serves in one of the most crucial and important areas that we face as an ever-growing community.
As a lifelong Democrat I have seen and experienced the impact of how petty local politics can sometimes detrimentally impact the progress of our community.
Ray has been one of those unique individuals who has the ability to rise above such pettiness and remain focused on what is best for our community.
When Heather Fiorentino assumed the position of Pasco County superintendent of schools, I feared that Ray would quickly become the victim of petty local politics, and our public school system would suffer as a result.
I based this opinion on no personal knowledge of the superintendent, but rather on my own preconceived opinion. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that superintendent Fiorentino did not immediately remove Ray from his fairly powerful position. The fact that she did not remove Ray made me change my personal opinion of superintendent Fiorentino and I began to think that she also had the ability to rise above petty local politics and instead put forth the best interests of our children and our public school system as had her predecessors. As I became more objective in my thinking of the superintendent, I began to see and appreciate her efforts in a very different light. Now, regretfully, with her firing of Ray Gadd, I am forced to question her true motives and intent once again.
Ray Gadd will be sorely missed at a time when we need people like him the most.
Tim Hayes, Lutz
Political party shouldn't matter
We are so blessed to hear the wisdom of Pasco County's Republican state committeeman Bill Bunting interjecting himself into a process that should be above political parties: the school operations and education of our children. The School Board in its most recent meeting was trying to have a few questions answered about the supposed new direction for the school system and received no responses.
It seems Bunting was there to ensure that the political decisions of hirings, firings and new directions were correct and not upset by the School Board's inquiries or the superintendent's responses.
I had been led to believe that the board members are there to serve our children and the school system without being elected because of their political party alignment. I guess I was wrong when it involves Pasco County elected officials and Bill Bunting's viewpoints.
Dale Gottschalk, Hudson
All in Pasco County should be proud of our schools | June 27 guest column
How about kids in high school?
Here is a question for School superintendent Heather Fiorentino: In your rosy, self-congratulatory assessment of Pasco County School's grade rankings, you did not once mention the performance of our high schools.
Only one Pasco high school saw its school grade improve, two saw their grades remain the same and seven saw their grades decline this year.
I find it disturbing that you fail to mention the poor performance of our high schools. Your failure to acknowledge this problem seems to suggest that these students have already been written off as collateral damage by a school system that has failed to sufficiently address their educational needs throughout their educational career.
It is a great accomplishment that the middle and grade schools are making positive strides, but we are doing a grave disservice to the students currently enrolled in high school as school grades decline. These students that the school system fails to adequately educate will be adversely affected possibly for their entire lives. You mention your "five-year strategic plan." What exactly is your strategic plan to meet the educational needs of the students already in high schools?
Ken Savich, Holiday
Political job not best for Ellzey
I've had the opportunity to work with Lee Ellzey over the years as Health Department director. I served on the board when it went under another name. My official tenure ended with my retirement. I had at that time been relatively inactive. That local agency evolved into the Pasco Hernando Jobs and Education Partnership, or Career Central.
Lee's environment is a highly political one. It is an AWI (Agency for Workforce Innovation) that also took the reins of the Early Learning Coalitions a number of years ago. Although highly critical of the coalition in the past, I would now suggest it has been in good hands with its new executive director, but the lead agency, AWI, is by its very nature highly political. That is not unusual among any state agencies, some worse than others.
I am reminded of what the late (Chicago) Mayor Richard J. Daley said when accused by reporters of giving contracts to his friends. His response, "Who am I going to help, my enemies?"
I would suspect Lee is a player trying to appease his masters while overseeing a productive and helpful local agency for years. In my multiple board activities, on occasion, we would thwart an obvious conflict of interest on the part of a board member. I left boards over what I felt were inappropriate influences on the part of board members or overseeing agencies.
I would suspect Lee would be an asset in another position. He ran an agency with skill and did what he had to do to survive — until now. My best to you, Lee and staff, for all your good work over the years.
Marc J. Yacht, Hudson