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Do students need ice cream daily?

Re: Wild about fruits and veggies, Oct. 22.

I think it was a great idea that the staff of Tyrone Elementary School dressed up like vegetables to interest students in healthy eating. Unfortunately, these actions don't speak as loudly as the daily offerings in Pinellas County school cafeterias.

Ice cream is sold with lunches to help support the lunch program. Many students eat the ice cream first and then some of their lunch if they have time. Why couldn't a healthy alternative like raisins or fruit be sold instead of ice cream?

The bottom line is that ice cream sells and money, not health, is the message the school lunch program is sending. Ice cream should be an item that is offered only on special occasions. Do our students really need ice cream every day with their lunch?

Paul "Danny" Bigham, information specialist,

Azalea Elementary, St. Petersburg

Not everyone shares FCAT pie

Re: Schools reap a cool $6-million, Oct. 12.

I would first like to say thank you to Donna Winchester for the article regarding the school recognition funds. Although your story was thorough, it was not altogether complete. There is another, unheard side of the story.

This year's distribution of FCAT reward money to schools has put a strain on many otherwise satisfied employees. Many overworked and underpaid teachers and Pinellas County school staffers are being excluded from the FCAT performance bonuses.

Although many schools earned grades to receive recognition dollars based on their FCAT scores, the two middle schools awarded the most money, Bay Point Middle and John Hopkins Middle, opted to leave out a portion their personnel, thereby rewarding more money to others. Both schools decided to give bonuses to the those who were staff members during the last school year, but cut out anyone who had left the school system or moved on to other schools within the district.

The problem with this FCAT recognition program lies in how much freedom is extended to schools in deciding what to do with a financial reward to which all employees should be entitled. This decisionmaking process opens the door to greed and the opportunity for many worthy individuals to be omitted. Committees were developed and meetings were held, but all parties were not represented. Individuals who had moved on to other schools or outside the school system were not included on these decisionmaking committees. In many cases voting privileges were extended to staff members who weren't even with the school the previous year.

Using a hand-picked committee and these voting methods to determine who is entitled to a reward is in a sense discriminatory. The authority to disseminate money was given to a partial majority, who purposely eliminated the voice of those who will have an impact on the amount of money they would receive while maliciously soliciting the voting power of individuals who weren't a part of the system that generated the reward.

It's disheartening how quickly the very people who gripe about the wrongs of the Florida Legislature and the ills of the instructional pay scale manage to turn their backs on their colleagues when enticed with a little bit of money. Sadly, these are the same people who work to teach our children character and life lessons when in reality they should be taught lessons in integrity toward their fellow educators.

Sam Young, St. Petersburg

Key is education, not motorcycle helmets

Re: Helmet laws should apply to all bikers, letter, Oct. 26.

I was involved in a motorcycle accident and lived to tell about it. I agree: Helmets do make a difference. If my peripheral vision and hearing were not substantially compromised by the helmet I was wearing, I might have had that little edge that would have allowed me to avoid the collision.

Whereas it's true that a large percentage of motorcycle fatalities involve head trauma, it's equally true that a similar statistic applies to both automobile accidents and those involving a pedestrian struck by a car. Why not require all passengers in cars _ as well as pedestrians _ to wear helmets? The fact is, there are no significant data to support the claim that helmets reduce the likelihood of fatal injury.

The increasing number of fatal motorcycle accidents is not attributable to the helmet-optional law but to the increasing number of motorcycles on the road. The ratio of fatalities to registered motorcycles has not changed since the new helmet requirements went into effect.

The answer to the problem is not to require helmets but to educate everyone _ car drivers and motorcyclists alike _ about motorcycle awareness and safety issues. Every driver's license examination and motorcycle operator's examination should have a substantial section on motorcycle awareness and courtesy.

I repeat _ the key is not regulation, but education. No amount of protective clothing will ever replace aware, responsible operating practices for reducing motorcycle fatalities.

Robert Sterling, St. Petersburg

Opening a seven-story can of worms

Re: Holiday Inn expansion will rise to 7 stories,

Oct. 19.

After reading the article on the Holiday Inn expansion in Indian Rocks Beach, I would like some answers to some questions that I have.

Quote: "Calling it the lesser of two evils, the commissioners approved the set of drawings that were submitted to the city in August." Since the commissioners had a choice of two evils, why did they have to pick an evil plan at all?

Quote: "The commissioners said they chose the plan with the taller building because residents told them that it was more attractive than the original plan that was submitted last December." Did the residents also realize that by telling the commissioners that they liked the taller building better that they also told the commissioners that a 70-foot-high building is okay to build in Indian Rocks Beach?

I believe the height limit is 52 feet in Indian Rocks Beach. I know the Holiday Inn is going to get a variance to build up to 70 feet. Does this open the possibility that others will want to build higher than 52 feet? After all, if we gave the Holiday Inn permission to go to seven stories, what's stopping others from asking for a variance also?

I also don't understand the following: "City Manager Tom Brobeil had recommended approving one of the two drawings rather than possibly facing a lengthy and costly lawsuit."

Who is going to sue Indian Rocks Beach because we don't want any more buildings here? I hope the commissioners did not open up a can of worms with this seven-story building. Also I hope we don't become another Sand Key.

August F. Holderried, Indian Rocks Beach

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