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Letters to the Editors

As a community, we must support education funding

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 20, 2002

Editor: What better way to show our patriotism than renewed commitment to our children, the future of our nation? This type of commitment would require that we recognize our problems and confront them realistically with a sense of urgency and recognition that we are in this together, all of us, even those who do not have children in school. Issues such as student-teacher ratios, the availability of textbooks for each child, and teacher salaries can best be addressed at the ballot box by voting for politicians with records that support funding for education, but there are other steps we can take today.

Barry Klein's interview with the Johnson County, N.C., school superintendent reinforced research that points to parental involvement as the most important indicator of success in school. The superintendent had the courage to enforce a consequence-based contract between parent and school. In doing so, he demanded that parents take responsibility for their children's education.

If we, as citizens of Pasco County, really want to encourage excellence in education, we will reward similar innovation, by taking risks, and working together toward our goal.

Business-education alliances work. Pasco business leaders understand the need for an educated workforce. Their fundraising efforts are indicative of a desire to assist, but consistent communication between schools and business is a challenge. One person from the local business community should be serving on each school advisory board and this person should be charged with the responsibility of disseminating information throughout the business community. Perhaps, the chambers of commerce, through the education committee, could serve as a vehicle to keep education concerns at the forefront.

Currently, citizen volunteers provide one-on-one tutoring in reading, writing, and math. These efforts can be expanded with capable volunteers operating afterschool remedial and FCAT review programs that will free up classroom time for professional educators. Other volunteers could run copies and do clerical tasks that take time away from teaching and rob creativity.

Currently, a teacher at each school is assigned the additional responsibility of coordinating volunteers. This takes time away from classroom schedules. Prompt, efficient volunteer coordination and training could be the responsibility of a community organization or a senior volunteer with an administrative background. To assure communication, the volunteer coordinator should also serve on the school advisory board.

Together, we can assure excellence in education for the children of Pasco County. The key is a common commitment to the goal, identification of the problems, and the courage to think outside the box to discover innovative solutions.
-- Susan Barrett-Staley, Bayonet Point

Becoming part of city won't solve Gulf Harbors resident's frustrations

Re:Gulf Harbors residents get little for tax dollars, Jan. 14 letter

Editor: The writer is badly misinformed if he thinks incorporation of Gulf Harbors into the city of New Port Richey would solve his frustrations.

Joining the city would not result in additional services. He would still have access to the same schools, parks, and libraries that he does now. He would trade county sheriff and fire protection for city police and fire protection. He would still have to pay for his water and sewer -- to the city, not to Lindrick, which, granted, would be an asset. He would still have to pay for trash pickup and road paving and he still would not have a sidewalk.

However, he would find that his yearly property tax bill would now also include city taxes. He would also discover that his electric, phone, and cable bills would include charges for municipal franchise fees.

Total taxes and franchise fees would cause a jump in his tax burden by an additional $900 for a $150,000 home or $1,500 for a $250,000 home. These figures are from official city records.

I hope in time the writer will recognize what a beautiful and unique community he lives in. There is gulf waterfront, nearby shopping and medical facilities, golf course and a wonderful private beach which is the envy of other neighborhoods.
-- Earline Churbuck, New Port Richey

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