Editor: Four years ago, the grade schools from which my wife and I graduated in Chicago celebrated their 100th anniversary. In 1992, I attended the 50th reunion of my high school graduating class. That school, also in Chicago, was built in 1936. The high school my wife attended was built several years before that.
We have visited our alma maters periodically and have seen no need for major renovation/building projects. These schools, along with many big city schools, neither need nor have any way of financing multimillion-dollar construction projects. If the bleachers in the gyms are wobbly, they are repaired. If the plumbing is faulty, it is repaired. The high schools have adequate auditoriums that are available for community use, just as in Hernando County. Administrative facilities were designed into the original structures and are still functional.
The teaching facilities in these schools are, indeed, 20th century and are updated as is necessary. When portable classrooms are needed, they are provided, classed as temporary, and removed when no longer needed.
The point here is that a school system controlled by a county seems to be out of touch with the administration of funds when there appears to be no end to the availability of those funds. A school building should not be considered antiquated at 30 years. If repairs are needed, they should be done properly as part of a routine maintenance program. New construction should be engineered as a long-term investment.
It isn't just big city schools that have longevity. Many smaller town facilities go back a few more than 30 years, and none involve themselves in multimillion-dollar rebuilding programs.
The Hernando County School Board and administration goes through a periodic process of change. Yet, in spite of these changes, the taxpayer is still expected to bite the bullet. I have no problem with improvement and necessary expansion, but reading about what appears to be a rather casual attitude toward multimillion-dollar cost estimates has become a little more irritating than the problem the princess had with the pea under the mattress.
Roland J. Olsberg
Higher taxes? Not
on fixed incomes
Editor: So, once again senior citizens are the villains, this time for not eagerly providing the taxes that would allow teachers' salaries to be increased to the level Jan Glidewell thought was appropriate (March 14 column).
There is no recognition, of course, of the fact that seniors do not get an increase in income every year, so they can afford higher taxes, nor of the bare possibility that younger people also are averse to higher taxes.
But salvation is at hand. On page 5B of the same day's newspaper, there is a report on a bill that would increase tax money available for local school districts by $266-million a year. Of course, this money is supposed to be used for school construction, but it will allow the same amount to be diverted from construction to salaries.
We really need a permanent solution. Simply getting rid of old people en masse is not the answer, since we need their spending to keep our store sales going and to keep our young people employed.
However, there is another possibility. The federal government has an estate tax, so why not Hernando County? Just take whatever the feds leave. Make this tax applicable only to seniors and I can guarantee a fairly rapid reduction in population. We might even be able to get back to the good old days when the population consisted of 20,000 or 30,000 "good old boys."
Ernest A. Maier
falls on deaf ears
Editor: Kathleen Long, Hernando County's 1997 Teacher of the Year, should be commended for the moving speech she gave at the impasse hearing on March 10.
Ms. Long gave an emotional account of this county's infamous history of irresponsibility and lack of commitment to its teachers. She spoke of the dedication and caring of this county's instructional staff. I was moved to tears as I heard her tell the School Board and the district's negotiating team that the Hernando County Teachers' Association was at a distinct disadvantage at this hearing.
When management and labor negotiations end in a settlement in favor of management, it usually means the labor forces will not come to work the following day. Ms. Long accurately told Superintendent John Sanders and his team that teachers were a different breed. We would be back on the job the next day and every successive day because we come for the students, not the money.
As a fellow teacher, I applaud you, Kathleen. Unfortunately, the School Board did not benefit from your observations. They obviously weren't listening.
Powell Middle School
Teachers deserved better
Editor: The only word I can think of for the teachers' pay raise is obscene. The School Board has a hard job in trying to make ends meet, but this is one for the books. If anything, they at least could have rounded the 1.86 percent increase up to 2 percent.
As a former union negotiator, I can only imagine how the union felt bringing this package back to its membership. The final acceptance rests with the members, which always makes the negotiators feel better when they wish they could have brought back a better package.
There's an old saying: "You get what you pay for." I am sure that some of the teachers will leave and others will stay for various reasons. Hopefully, the students will not be the ones who suffer the consequences.
marred family fun
Editor: Congratulations to all those who worked to make this year's Weeki Wachee Swamp Festival a great success. This county is fortunate to have such a wonderful non-profit event, which raises money for charitable causes. We should be happy that we had many people from our neighboring counties spending their money here rather than elsewhere.
Unfortunately, many people, upon returning to their vehicles, had received parking violations for parking 2 feet off the pavement when the law allows for only 1 foot. We feel this situation could have been handled in a more lenient manner. We do not see the deputies ticketing those parking in fire lanes only to use pay phones, or those driving without license tags on vehicles and utility trailers.
Let's get real. The festival, a family-oriented affair where no alcohol is allowed, is what this county needs more of. And the absence of alcohol makes traffic on the county's roads safer after the event. This factor alone should be a reason to ignore some parking violations.
Let's hope next year's event will not be a repeat situation.
Anthony and Dolores Kiwak
Tootsie Roll drive
met sweet success
Editor: The Knights of Columbus, St. Joan of Arc Council 11317, conducted its annual Tootsie Roll Drive in Spring Hill and Brooksville from Feb. 28 to March 1.
Each year the Knights distribute Tootsie Rolls throughout the community and collect donations to help individuals with developmental disabilities and give the proceeds to Hernando Arc.
We would like to express our sincere thanks to all those individuals who contributed to this year's drive. In addition, we would like to thank all the businesses that gave us permission to solicit funds in front of their locations.
Grand Knight, Council 11317
Getting mixed signals
on car sale
Editor: I moved to Florida about two weeks ago and used my savings to buy a car. I went to the tag office to get it tagged or titled because the man who sold me the car was not the owner. The tax collector said it was illegal for him to sell the car. The Sheriff's Office said it was legal. Who is right?
This car has been sold three times without being transferred to anyone. That's about $100 on this one car that the state of Florida hasn't received, and if 1,000 people do this, the state just lost $100,000 on taxes on cars. So, naturally, taxes go up again. To make a long story short, I have a car that I can't drive, and the state is out more taxes. The reason I am putting this in the paper is I don't know where to turn. The tax collector can't help, the Sheriff's Office won't help and the lawyers want money.
Come to find out, I paid $600 for a car the man got out of the wrecking yard. Where have all the honest people gone?