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East Pasco group seeks 2 slots on PHCC board

The students and residents say it's time they had a say. Right now, all five Pasco trustees are from the west side. Hernando gets four members.

East Pasco residents and Pasco-Hernando Community College students, still angered over losing their beloved provost last fall, started a campaign this week to get something in return: a voice on the college's board of trustees.

"I want to know that the ideals in the community here are represented on the board there," said Jacqueline Krista Cavolina-Macholeth, 30, a student leader on the school's Dade City campus.

The school's nine-member board of trustees, which is appointed by the governor, must have four members from Hernando County and five from Pasco, college spokeswoman Lynn Rothman said. Board Vice Chairwoman Sharon Taylor, a Hernando lawyer, has asked not to be reappointed to the board. John Church, also of Hernando, has asked to be reappointed and was unanimously supported by the board.

All five Pasco members live in west Pasco, where the college has its main offices.

The only Pasco member up for reappointment this spring, Dr. Rao Musunuru, has said he would like to be reappointed, and the board unanimously endorsed his reappointment.

Unaware that only one seat is available to them, the east Pasco students and residents have begun a campaign to get two men on the board: Dade City lawyer Leonard Johnson and Wesley Chapel resident David Marshall.

Dade City Commissioner Lowell Harris sent their resumes to Gov. Jeb Bush's office last week, he said.

Bush's appointments will be made May 31, Rothman said.

The group of students and residents, including Lowell Standberry, a longtime GOP supporter who was scheduled to host a campaign event for George W. Bush last fall, will try to garner support, Harris said. They want the same group of roughly 800 people who wrote letters opposing the transfer of provost Michael Rom to write, e-mail and call the governor's office to push for an east Pasco resident's appointment.

Marshall, 59, works in business development at Batson-Cook Co., a Tampa general contractor, and serves on the Florida State Task Force for Public School Funding and two PHCC task forces. He said he didn't know his name was being mentioned so prominently but is flattered and interested in the position.

Johnson, 43, of the Johnson, Auvil and Brock law firm has served as president of Dade City's Main Street and as chairman of the board at Pasco Regional Medical Center. He said his side of the county does not have a voice on the board, but he won't get into the political fray seeking the appointment.

The fray includes disgruntled students and residents like Cavolina-Macholeth.

Much of the contention stems from Rom's sudden removal from the east campus last fall and demotion to head the college's adult education department in New Port Richey. He had received glowing reviews from school President Robert Judson, and the move blindsided him, the students and the community.

The board unanimously approved Judson's decision.

"They pretty much walked into the community, smacked us on the face and walked out giggling," Cavolina-Macholeth said. "I just want to make sure that when I leave this school, that something like that isn't going to happen again."

Board chairwoman Judy Parker said she would like to see Musunuru reappointed.

"I don't think it's important where a person lives to be able to represent the college," she said.

But she added that in the future she would support the appointment of an east Pasco resident. Having someone from east Pasco on the board would make many people happy, she said.

Judson said he would prefer that Musunuru, who has served only two years, be allowed to serve more.

"Just because there is no one from the east side of the county on the board does not mean the college is not doing all it can to serve the east side," he said.

Judson said he would like the state to add an east-side member in a couple of years when more board members who have served a full four-year term are up for reappointment.

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