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A CALL FOR PARENTS TO ACT ON ZONING

Re: Hernando School Board rezoning elementary schools.

I am writing this letter to inform many Hernando County parents that they might be rezoned to another school. I'm mainly concerned with Sterling Hill, Sand Ridge and Silverthorn elementary students being used by the School Board as a repair for the failing Spring Hill Elementary. (Middle school and high school rezoning also is on the table.)

Spring Hill Elementary has not met adequate yearly progress for the past five years. JD Floyd has been an "A" school for the past two years. Why should we allow the School Board to take our children who are attending a good school and place them at a failing school? Are they taking our children to relieve overcrowding or to make Spring Hill a passing school?

At the July 26 School Board workshop it was stated that helping the failing schools meet AYP was taken into consideration in the rezoning maps. In other words, the higher-income, higher-scoring FCAT students in our subdivisions are a fix for the failing school, not the overcrowding or location of the school.

A School Board member also does not want to hear from parents about how "bad a school is" and that grades do not matter. They do! They matter in funding and school reputations. We also have a right to voice our opinions and he needs to know he represents us, not himself.

A parent called Jim Knight, director of student services and head of the rezoning committee, and was told by his secretary that he could receive a copy of the maps only with Mr. Knight's authorization. This parent was denied access to a public document. We have a right to know what the school district is doing with our children.

The new zones will start with the 2008-09 school year. This is going to affect all of Sterling Hill, Silverthorn and Sand Ridge subdivisions. The rezoning committee has recommended that all of our subdivisions be zoned for Spring Hill Elementary.

As of July 26 the board has tentatively accepted the proposal for our area. The final vote by the School Board is scheduled for November or December. We cannot wait that long. We need to act now. The more people who go to the School Board meetings the more response we will get. Go to the meetings, fill out the form and they have to let you speak for three minutes. If we get enough people involved we can change the board's mind. This not only effects parents of small children, but the resale value of our homes.

Please let your neighbors know. Call the School Board at 797-7000; call Jim Knight at 797-7008. Please help keep the children at their current schools.

Catherine Vredeveld,

Spring Hill

Re: What about unsolved deaths? - July 25 letter to the editor

Letter was wrong about crime rate

I want to begin by saying that I totally believe everyone has the right to express an opinion and that is why I do not normally respond to letters written to the editor. Having that said, I feel obligated to correct inaccurate statements in the letter written by Joe Pratl.

Mr. Pratl stated that there "are still four unsolved murders in Hernando County in the first six months of 2007." I'd like to set the record straight for readers. Thus far in 2007 there have not been any cases of murder/homicide in Hernando County. To be even more specific, since 2001 we have had 22 cases of murder/homicide reported. Of those cases all except two have been closed with either arrest of offender(s) or in a case of murder/suicide where the offender took his own life.

Regarding open cases, one occurred in December 2001; the victim was Richard March. The other open case occurred in October 2006, which was the double homicide/murder of Patrick and Evelyn DePalma. Investigators are actively pursuing leads and information in the DePalma case. The Richard March case will be featured in the second edition of the Crime Stoppers Cold Case cards distributed to inmates in hopes it will generate new leads.

To take the issue a step further, the following is a review of murder/homicide cases since Sheriff Richard Nugent took office in 2001. In 2006, we had five reported murders/homicides; in 2005, we had zero murder/homicides; in 2004, we had three; in 2003, we had five; in 2002, we had five; and, in 2001, we had four.

Two cases of unsolved murder/homicide outstanding in our community since 2001, and Mr. Pratl questions what Sheriff Nugent is doing? I invite the public to visit the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Uniform Crime Report (UCR) site at www.fdle.state.fl.us/fsac/ucr/index.asp and view our number of murders/homicides as it compares to other counties in Florida.

I know as a member of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office my opinion will be viewed by some as jaded, but the facts speak for themselves. We live in a wonderful community and have hard-working law enforcement officers serving you each and every day. These deputies/detectives work diligently to solve and arrest those responsible for committing all types of crimes in Hernando County.

Donna Black, Brooksville

Editor's note: Black is the Sheriff's Office public information officer.

Re: Growth is here, so let's reap benefits - July 29 letter to the editor

Perhaps 8 miles is too far to drive

Since the gentleman who wrote this article might be a fairly new resident, there are a few things he should know:

County Line Road is at a failing grade. Check it out at rush hour. The road will not be improved for many years.

There will be two new retail shopping centers of more than 700,000 square feet on County Line Road, near the Suncoast Parkway.

Wellington and Preston Hollow subdivisions banded together to turn down an apartment complex a stone's throw from his residence.

I guess an 8-mile ride to Wal-Mart on U.S. 19 is just too far.

Bob Cooper, Spring Hill

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