1. Archive

No political party should control Pasco's school system

Editor: Like Mr. Tom Weightman, I too am a Republican and, like him, also believe that no party, either Republican or Democrat, should head Pasco County's school system simply because it happens to be the party in control of the state.

The most experienced and knowledgeable person of the school system here simply in Pasco County should be the only person to run its schools.

Ms. Ann Bunting has written that the $22.4-million increase over last year should be more than enough to cover any or all costs within the schools, but she is way off in her figures.

When I retired to Pasco 25 years ago, the population was mostly older people such as my wife and I. The population of Pasco was approximately 80,000, and it has grown to almost 325,000 and is not yet done. In the next five or 10 years, another 100,000 people will be added to that number. New homes that will be constructed will add thousands of new students to the already crowded schools, adding to the need for new schools to be built.

In the area that I live in, I have seen seven new schools constructed within 6 miles of my home, and outside of that even more have been built or are in the planning so as to accommodate new students, the children of the new families moving into Pasco every day. I hope that Ms. Bunting has the realism to know the number of new teachers, aides, custodians, bus drivers, additional buses, learning aides, athletic equipment and then the millions of dollars needed to purchase the land for these new schools.

Yes, there is and will always be a shortfall of money for schools here in Pasco and the whole bay area until a way is found to stop the growing number of homes built in Pasco. Until Ms. Bunting can come up with that solution, we are going to live with the fact that today's shortage will be tomorrow's and next year's and the year after.

If Chuck Rushe is not the most experienced and qualified person for the post of school superintendent, then certainly no one else in any political party is.

Joseph Peck, New Port Richey

Appointing superintendent

of schools makes sense

Editor: Chuck Rushe is to be commended for being open and compassionate with Pasco parents and teachers. That John Long recommends him is significant, and I particularly appreciate his input. The voter did not accept it, but several years ago there was a movement to change to an appointed superintendent rather than elected. The discussion in favor of this was highly motivating. There were some very vocal Republicans who cried that it would rob the elections of their value and intent. Pasco voters would lose a right to choose and "never relinquish your right to choose!" makes for strong sentiment.

What is in the best interests of society is another story. Perhaps there should be some discussion on this topic again. I believe an appointed superintendent makes sense.

Who better judges abilities: those in the trenches or strangers at a distance?

Alberta Beversdorf, Port Richey

FCAT offers contrived

system of school grades

Editor: Former Pasco County Teacher of the Year Heather Fiorentino has obviously forgotten something very important since she became a legislator. The students in the Pasco County school system have always been making progress to achieve their maximum potential. How sad that Ms. Fiorentino is ecstatic for the children of Pasco County based on some ridiculously contrived school grading system _ FCAT!

Maybe it's time for Ms. Fiorentino to return to the reality of a place called school as an educator to see the fallacy of her own thinking. How easy it must be to lose sight from afar, as John Long and Chuck Rushe have always known firsthand how difficult it is to administer and to finance a quality school system based on the amount of money they receive from an approved state budget.

Rushe has never been a "sky is falling" type of person, as he is a realist and he knows that teachers and students in Pasco County are almost always praised for their successes and progress made, no matter how much money the legislators dole out or what type of testing system is in operation.

Jean C. Millard, St. Leo

Federal tax cuts lead

to cuts in local services

Editor: Am I the only one who notices that Ann Bunting, her husband, and Heather Fiorentino are all birds of the same feather? How dare she distort the issue of our state Legislature underfunding education in Pasco County specifically, and Florida generally, by spewing forth figure after figure without acknowledging that implementing lower teacher-pupil ratios is expensive.

On top of that, Pasco County's student population is exploding. Did she mention either of those two facts? No!

Buntings' and Fiorentino's attacks on Chuck Rushe's statement that school recognition will cost an additional $500,000 is an atrocity. Rushe has credentials, if one can believe Thomas Weightman's June 27th letter, "For school leadership, skills, not party ties, crucial."

It would be nice to vote Heather Fiorentino out of office and put her back into a crowded classroom where she had better make sure her students pass FCAT.

As long as the neocons and Bushies keep cutting taxes, services must be cut too at the local, state and national levels. Just since Dubya was "selected" to office, the 10-year budget projection went from a $5.6-trillion surplus to a current 10-year fiscal projection for a $4-trillion deficit.

This means the federal government has less money to help cash-starved states that in turn have less money to help cashed-starved counties. Somehow our Legislature found a way to cut nearly $90-million more in taxes this year for those needing it least. Talk about government of the privileged for the privileged, and the rest of us be damned.

John W. Mackiewicz, Holiday

Don't cut funds for students'

extracurricular activities

Editor: There's something I don't understand about how the School Board spends money. Why would they reduce money for extracurricular activities instead of cutting back on something else? Extracurricular activities like sports and band are very important to young people.

Raising fees to parents who may not be able to afford it for their kids to participate is like saying they don't really care about kids.

In the newspaper, it is said that raising student fees for athletics would save the School Board $289,049; raising band fees would save $27,000.

This totals $316,049. That may seem like a lot of money, but it is a drop in the bucket. This year's budget was $586-million. Next year, it will be at least $608-million because they are getting an increase from the state of more than $22-millionmore than they got this year.

What is really bad is that the kids from lower income homes will be hit the hardest with these increases.

How many will not be able to play because they raised these costs? It seems to me that if John Long and the School Board really were concerned about kids, they would find some other way to cut costs instead of hurting the children.

Ken Casey, Hudson

Share your views

The Pasco Times welcomes letters from readers for publication.

Because of space limitations, letters should be of reasonable length (250-300 words maximum as a rule).

Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

All letters must be signed and must contain the writer's address and telephone number. Addresses and telephone numbers will not be printed.

Anonymous letters or letters with initials only will not be printed.

Send your letter to Pasco Times, 11321 U.S. 19, Port Richey, FL 34668.