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Today's Letters: Close schools only as last resort

Published August 2, 2007

Students and parents cross S Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater last August as they walk toward South Ward Elementary School. The 100-year-old school is among 10 schools on a preliminary list for possible closure, but a final decision has not been made.
[Scott Keeler | Times (2006)]

I am always amazed at the inner workings of the Pinellas County school system when it comes to budgetary matters. The recent preliminary list of schools being considered for closing is perplexing.

When the system is looking to end the "choice plan" and move to community schools in 2008-09, does closing neighborhood schools make sense?

Surely, savings from the maze of busing trails that currently accommodate the choice plan will help to recoup tax dollars.

If a building needs to be closed, try the main school administrative building in Largo. Put some of those lush offices in portables that seem so readily routed to school campuses this time of year. Those individuals need to be on school campuses anyway to really know how their programs are being implemented.

Schools routinely absorb reading, math, and technology curriculum programs that are costly and often change within a few years. Let's examine the real need for these programs in the light of budget cuts.

Closing schools that are an integral part of the community should be the last measure if the goal is to merely save money.

Students, parents, teachers and support staff, and communities will be dramatically impacted by such a directive. Let's look for other solutions to this matter.

Gary Curtis, North Redington Beach

Editor's note: Pinellas school Superintendent Clayton Wilcox placed 10 schools on a preliminary list for possible closure due to declining enrollments and a proposed new student assignment plan: Anona Elementary in Largo; Clearview Elementary in St. Petersburg, Gulf Beaches Elementary in St. Petersburg, Largo Central Elementary in Largo, North Ward Elementary in Clearwater, Orange Grove Elementary in Seminole, Rio Vista Elementary in St. Petersburg, San Jose Elementary in Dunedin, South Ward Elementary in Clearwater, and Riviera Middle School in St. Petersburg. The list is being refined before an Aug. 9 School Board workshop.

Kudos to workers in power outage

I just want to say thanks to the line workers of Progress Energy for working so tirelessly Tuesday night to restore power to my neighborhood after the storm.

These guys began sometime around 6 p.m. Tuesday and did not finish complete restoration until 6:30 a.m. the next day.

That is tremendous dedication, especially factoring in the ongoing rain and lightning during the night.

I also want to send my well wishes to the worker who was injured while trying to get our lights back on.

Most of the time we customers just whine about how long it takes to get the power back on, without giving due consideration to just how difficult and dangerous these guys' jobs really are.

How many of us would risk our lives just to get the lights on at a stranger's house? Think about that next time you're waiting for the big truck to come down your street in the dark. I know I will.

M. FitzGerald, Dunedin

Re: Go online to tell city about downtown story, July 29

Online survey too complicated

Is the city of Clearwater kidding or is this just the latest example of seeking opinion while actually discouraging participation?

This downtown survey form is at the Web site But to access it one must type in 42 additional letters and symbols besides the main Web site address. Few will attempt to do so and fewer will succeed.

If the city is serious about soliciting opinion about what retail operations are wanted and needed downtown, how about making it a little easier to access the survey?

And who decided to set it up this way?

Martin Altner, Clearwater

Editor's note: Want to try to access the survey? Here goes:

http://www.surveymonkey. com/s.aspx?sm=vQ7NK_2fyn82JYk6y_2fXUicUw_3d_3d

Mulch in cubic yards, not feet

I have an important correction to my letter, Mulch choices are close to home, that appeared in the July 31 paper. The amount of mulch that we have delivered is in 10-, 20-, or 30-cubic YARD quantities, not feet. There is a big difference. I apologize for any confusion.

Gail Carroll, Belleair

Your voice counts

You may submit a letter to the editor for possible publication through our Web site at, or by faxing it to (727) 445-4119, or by mailing it to Letters, 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. You must include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

[Last modified August 1, 2007, 22:59:58]

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