Editor: On Feb. 4, the Hernando County School Board made a decision that will have a devastating impact on middle and high school students countywide.
In a 4-1 decision, the School Board changed the seven-period day back to a six-period day. It seems that school officials, although they claim to have the students in mind, aren't concerned enough to give students and parents time to find out what is going on.
Several school officials said that the reason for the switch to six periods was not budget-related, but because seven periods and six classes were too much stress for teachers and students. In fact, today's high school students have had seven periods in their school day for up to seven years.
School should get harder, not easier. Students should learn how to handle stress, not have school officials prevent them from having too much stress. As students, they should spend time on studies. As most teachers don't give an extensive amount of homework, there shouldn't be too much trouble for students to study one more subject.
It seems that school officials aren't concerned with the needs of the student, only with saving a buck. They say that the drop of one class is not money-related, but to prevent stress and to force students to learn more. Officials pointed out that some seniors are taking more than one PE class to fill a schedule. Let me remind you that there are more than 35 elective classes available. Maybe students are just taking easy classes to improve low grade point averages.
Katherine N. Kmiec, Spring Hill
Tourist tax is a terrible idea
Editor: As a representative of one of the largest bodies of hotel rooms, and as an employer of 65-plus people in the hospitality industry, we urge citizens to carefully consider the ramification of an ordinance to levy a 2 percent tourist development tax. With the formation of the Hernando County Tourist Development Council, it is more than likely that this ordinance will be passed by the commission and put on the presidential election ballot in November.
Hernando County voters must not fall victim to the belief that an increased "tourism tax" will be painless and go unnoticed by those paying it. The truth is, we are imposing a tax on someone who is not represented. One of the prime reasons tourists and business travelers come to our area is because the rates and taxes are not exorbitant as they are in our surrounding counties. Should we really consider taxing ourselves out of the market when Brooksville is considered a "stopover" town rather than a destination?
One can say: "Well, this doesn't affect me. It's no money out of my pocket since it is a tax the visitors to our county will pay." But the tax can and will affect each and every one of you if it is implemented.
Once the hotel guests learn of the additional tax, it will be very easy for them to decide to stay somewhere that does not tax its visitors. Further, if the business travelers who must come to Brooksville find their rate has increased, they will be forced to raise the cost of their goods. Or the buyer arriving in Brooksville to purchase your farm products will be forced to pay you less than you received before the tax was implemented.
Perhaps if we had several major tourist attractions in the county, one could see the logic. However, that is not the case in Hernando County; and a tax such as the tourist development tax would merely place an unfair burden on a single industry and would not bring in the dollars the commission envisions.
This is a very competitive world. Therefore, the issue of taxing the visitors to our area is a question of logic. Should we tax the few visitors we have traveling through our community so that a government agency can spend it on various projects in the name of "tourism"? Or would it be better to maintain our beautiful rural community with its natural habitat and leave the tourist attractions for the metropolitan areas?
As a responsible citizen of Hernando County, let us call and write our county commissioners to reject this ordinance and vote no on the tourist development tax.
Paul Krupit, general manager
Brooksville Holiday Inn
School Board should stick to its duties
Editor: You reported on Feb. 13 that several proposals would temper the strict rules announced for conduct at Hernando School Board meetings. Additional "unofficial" School Board meetings have been proposed for the community to have input. Such meetings should be official but informal.
Some board members have assumed the school superintendent's prerogative by being involved with administration. Time thus spent is unavailable to discuss problems with people concerned about education matters. These same education-concerned citizens become frustrated when at board meetings they are unable to communicate with members.
The proposed additional meetings would be productive only if concerned citizens, without the School Board, could meet with the superintendent to make, and for him to implement, decisions within state and other rules and regulations. Thereby the School Board could be eliminated; unfortunately it is mandatory. Money could be spent on textbooks instead of members' compensation, related "overheads" and the little-used gavel; use it or lose it. The same money, alternatively, could be used to develop the School Board's janitors and maintenance workers for them to assume full responsibility for such work.
Problems arise because the School Board, since the last election, is predominantly a group of enthusiastic amateurs bewildered by the complexity of education affairs. The long-established and widely accepted distinction between School Board responsibilities and the superintendent's responsibilities remains with some members a mystery wrapped in a conundrum inside obscurity.
No school superintendent is perfect. Neither are School Board members perfect. Critics of the superintendent should realize that no sane person will in the future seek this position so long as Laurel and Hardy reruns masquerade as School Board meetings. Hernando School Boards ultimately may encounter a shortage of qualified educators. God help future students if they do.
The Hernando School Board should decide whether it is in the business of education or farcical entertainment. The community needs to decide whether local education interests would be furthered if School Board members were to be appointed by a responsible authority instead of being elected on promises made at a popularity contest.
James A. Willan, Brooksville
Cameras are pointless in school buses
Editor: Who is trying to fool whom by putting cameras in school buses? That's about as smart as putting in the paper where the highway patrol is checking vehicles.
Children will put on their best behavior and drivers with illegal registration, bad tires, etc., will use other roads.
Clem Johnson, Spring Hill