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PHCC board needs a voice from all areas

East Pasco is correct to feel slighted in the make-up of the Pasco-Hernando Community College Board of Trustees. The Dade City vicinity has its own campus, but not a representative on the nine-member panel that oversees the college operations.

It is inaccurate to say the college ignores the east Pasco perspective. Representatives of the Dade City campus attend and participate in board meetings. Dr. Robert Judson, college president, lives in Zephyrhills. And the Dade City campus will be the home of the new police academy, for which groundbreaking is scheduled later this month.

Still, the board's composition of five west Pasco and four Hernando County residents is not representative of the area served by the college. St. Petersburg Junior College, for instance, has board members hailing from Tarpon Springs in the north to Seminole and St. Petersburg in southern Pinellas.

Some students and Dade City residents are now pushing for a change on the PHCC board following the transfer of popular provost Michael Rom from the east campus. Students bombarded the college with complaints after Rom's abrupt departure and demotion to the New Port Richey campus last year. The board approved the transfer in the fall.

Last week, Dade City Commissioner Lowell Harris forwarded resumes from Dade City lawyer Leonard Johnson and Wesley Chapel resident David Marshall to the governor's office for consideration as future trustees.

The next Pasco seat to expire is held by Dr. Rao Musunuru, who has indicated he wants to continue serving. He recently received the unanimous endorsement from his fellow trustees. The appointment for that seat is due by the end of May.

The request from east Pasco interests is not unreasonable, but it would be a mistake to replace Musunuru for the sake of geographic balance. Musunuru, a successful cardiologist, provides medical expertise to the board at a time the college is beefing up nursing training. He is not guided by future ambitions or political considerations. Additionally, he brings an educational background and minority viewpoint that none of the other Pasco appointees can match.

It is more logical for Gov. Jeb Bush to replace one of the other west Pasco political appointees: Ed Collins, lobbyist and former County Commissioner; Judy Parker, wife of former New Port Richey council member Frank Parker; Judy Braak, a real estate agent and sister of Republican state committeeman John Renke; or Judy Case, a retired businesswoman who remains an active host of political fundraisers.

The terms of two trustees from Hernando County, which hosts PHCC campuses in Brooksville and Spring Hill, end in May. John Church has asked to be reappointed to the board and his request was unanimously supported by the board. However, board vice chairwoman Sharon Taylor, a Brooksville lawyer, has asked not to be reappointed. Gov. Bush will select someone to take over her slot and serve with Hernando County trustees Jeanne Gavish and Jim Yant.

Students and staff at Pasco-Hernando Community College are reflective of diverse educational needs in a broad two-county region. The same should hold true for the board of trustees.