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PINELLAS COUNTY: SCHOOL BOARD, DISTRICT 4

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Two candidates with strong community ties and a history of civic involvement are seeking the seat of long-time board member Jane Gallucci.

Ken Peluso, Palm Harbor Robin Wikle, Tarpon Springs
A chiropractor for 25 years, Peluso, 51, owns Peluso Chiropractic and Rehab in Palm Harbor. He is chairman of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, an agency with a $51-million budget that distributes money for early childhood and school readiness services such as the stateÍs prekindergarten program. He has served on various government boards in Palm Harbor. His 2006 bid for the Florida House failed. He lives in Palm Harbor with wife Julie and a son who attends Carwise Middle School. A stepson graduated from Pinellas schools. Experience Wikle, 45, and her husband have owned a Palm Harbor real estate business, Coldwell Banker Wikle Properties, for 15 years. Previously she worked five years as a special education teacher for Pinellas schools and was a part-time classroom assistant for four years. She has been active in Tarpon Springs civic affairs, serving on the Chamber of Commerce board and a city parks and recreation advisory council and leading a youth football and cheerleading league. She and her husband Paul live in Tarpon Springs. The youngest of three sons, ages 15 to 21, attends Tarpon High School.
Graduated in 1979 from Merrimack College in Andover, Mass., and in 1983 from Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, SC. Education AssociateÍs degree in 1983 from St. Petersburg Junior College. MasterÍs degree in special education from Florida State University, 1985.
"I truly believe that to be an effective school board member one must have adequate experience dealing with multiple issues, including not only education issues but also multimillion-dollar budgets, union contracts and diverse community issues," Peluso says. "I have that experience." Says he has more experience overseeing public funds than does Wikle. Main pitch to voters "I believe I have the right experience for the job," Wikle says, pointing to the combination of business and classroom experience. Says her educational background is more substantial than PelusoÍs. Says she would "build bridges, promote teamwork and encourage positive energy to the School Board." Says she would work at the job full time.
Strongly supports a proposal to decentralize the district and put more power in the hands of individual schools. However, he wants Pinellas to develop its own plan rather than copy another county. Calls for more emphasis on early learning and school readiness to address the achievement gap and graduation rate. "Simply put," he says, "we must teach our children to learn." Also supports new emphasis on career education. The issues Agrees with the concept of decentralizing the system but wants to ensure Pinellas lays the proper groundwork for the change, such as training principals to handle new responsibilities. Favors improved start times, especially for high schools, but not if it means mixing age groups on buses. Strongly supports career programs like Centers of Excellence and says students need more time with tutors, mentors and counselors.
Home, cars, chiropractic practice, commercial and other property, investments. Assets Business, home, investments
Home and commercial building mortgages Liabilities Mortgages, business loan
$1.6-million Net worth $2.4-million
Chiropractic practice, rental income, investments Income Real estate business, investments
kenpeluso.com, drpeluso@earthlink.net Web, E-mail voterobinwikle.org, GamePlan@VoteRobinWikle.org
About the job: District 4 encompasses Tarpon Springs, Oldsmar, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor and Dunedin and parts of Clearwater, including Countryside and north beaches. Seven board members serve staggered four-year terms, overseeing more than 140 schools, 100,000-plus students and a $1.5-billion budget. Under a state formula, members earned $40,592 in 2007-08.

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