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Computer appeal nets outpourings

A teacher wrote about the "nightmare" she endures in an old portable. Parents shared their frustrations about crowded classrooms.

One woman appealed in capital letters: "HELP!!!!"

The outpouring about Florida's crowded schools came by computer, on a web page set up by Palm Harbor parent Lisa Sibley. Tuesday, she presented Gov. Lawton Chiles with a paper version of more than 400 responses.

"Boy, I tell you, these are very cogent letters," said Chiles as he read a few samples.

Sibley made her presentation to Chiles in a portable set up by the governor's office in the Capitol courtyard as a symbol of the crowding problem.

Too busy to organize a petition drive _ she is a working mother and part-time student _ Sibley created a World Wide Web page to urge people to voice their concerns and recommend solutions to the crowding problems.

Sibley's computer appeal brought a rush of complaints and emotions.

"I am a teacher and living in this nightmare," wrote Angela Rickerson of Lutz. "I am in an old portable with inadequate air circulation, black matter coming out of the vent and 35 students squeezed together like sardines!"

Cynthia Fletcher of Dunedin said she put her son in private school after a "terrible year" in fourth-grade. "School started in August, yet books did not arrive until early December due to funding problems. School assignments were photocopies of photocopies."

Sibley is keeping her web site up and running despite some heat from state Rep. Jerry Melvin, R-Fort Walton Beach, who accused her of coercing people to get involved.

The web address for the Florida Education Petition is: