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New schedule helps students

Re: Bauder to close early once a week, story, April 23.

I felt it necessary that I let others know some more of the pluses to the early release day concept. First, I focus on the fact that the children and teachers will have more quality time together four days a week. That, to me, is the real benefit of this concept.

My teaching partner and I have remarked all year that we wish we had more time with the children. Our full-inclusion classroom is made up of 23 general education first-graders and 10 educable mentally handicapped second- and third-graders. The children are in school 360 minutes each day. In the typical first-grade curriculum, 345 minutes are spent on reading, writing and math skills, plus lunch and physical education. That leaves 15 minutes throughout the day for anything else, which includes moving from one activity to another.

Next, I would like to address the concern some people may have about the longer day being detrimental for the younger children. As an early childhood teacher myself, I can tell you the extra 30 minutes a day will not hurt these children.

All early childhood teachers know that a child's day should be scheduled so that there is a balance between the quiet and the active lessons. The younger children may actually be able to have their "recess" time, which is an important part of their learning. The extra 30 minutes a day will be used to best meet the children's needs academically.

Finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of the 2{-hour "Seminar Days" that the teachers will be able to have one day each week. To be able to have a special training session, to make long-range plans with your teammates, and to discuss the use of quality education tools in the classroom is a big step in reaching highest student achievement.

We, as teachers, parents and community members, are in this together. Let's take this step forward for our children.

Carol Orr, first-grade teacher

Bauder Elementary, Seminole

Troubled youths best served

near their own neighborhoods

Re: Alternative school plan still stuck, story, April 27.

I was disappointed to learn of the proposal to develop an "alternative" high school in our county. The archaic notion of housing a large concentration of troubled youths at a single location is a recipe for disaster reminiscent of the "reform" schools of yesteryear and recent failures of farming juveniles out of their communities to outside institutions.

Logistical issues, such as transporting youths outside of their neighborhoods, also appear contrary to current thinking that youths are best treated and educated near their homes and family. Field experience and professional literature indicate that smaller, well-supervised, community-based programs with solid educational, mental health, substance abuse and family intervention components provide kids and families with the optimal opportunity for positive change in the most cost-effective model.

The School Board and concerned agencies need to work toward community-based programs built upon existing alternative education facilities and magnet program models that support family and neighborhood ownership, stability and development.

Phillip N. Ninios, Clearwater

Plans should be made public

regarding new business traffic

Re: Store brings traffic worries, story, April 26.

When a large company like Home Depot decides to build a store in our community, we must realize that it will stimulate economic activity in Seminole and increase our tax base. In order for Home Depot (and an unnamed restaurant) to be successful, they must draw customers. A vast majority will drive their cars or trucks.

The increased traffic on the roads and access to these new businesses should be a concern of the community (residents and city, county or state governments), and their plans to accommodate this increase should be made public. It is reasonable to assume that in the public interest the Times should ask these questions. However, the Times should wait for the answers before the article is written.

Your article stated that Bill Oswell of the Atlanta planning company of Greenburg Farrow "did not return a call for comment." Two engineering specialists and an engineering supervisor for the county were quoted about their concerns. The article states that "City Manager Frank Edmunds . . . worries the number of accidents will increase at the crossing of Park and Seminole boulevards once the store opens."

What governmental body approved the building of these businesses? What are their plans to ensure the orderly flow of traffic and safe access to these new businesses? What are county or state policy on the amount of increase in traffic that would require a traffic signal?

Ed Park, Seminole

School groups are meant to promote

inclusion, not exclusion

The intolerance demonstrated by those protesting the existence of the Largo High School Gay and Straight Alliance simply proves the group's necessity.

I applaud the stand taken by Principal Barbara Thornton and the School Board in supporting the alliance. The schools should support any student who is discriminated against or feels threatened. No one should have to attend school in a hostile environment.

It brings to mind the old news footage from when many Southern schools were integrated for the first time.

I was especially distressed by the words of the so-called Christian student from Clearwater High School who equated homosexuality to murder. If Christian student groups are to exist in our schools, they should only exist to support those of like mind, not to protest the beliefs or lifestyles of others in their community. School clubs or support groups should be to foster inclusion, not exclusion.

I am also frustrated and dismayed at the attention this incident has garnered for David Caton and his ilk. If Christian students were being harassed at school, the schools would be right to take steps to protect them. Why should gay students be afforded any less protection?

Nancy Goodall, Clearwater

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