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Opinion
Palm Coast Wednesday, May 30, 2018 2 months ago

OPINION: Palm Harbor Academy failure is evidence that local school boards should maintain control over charters

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Here's what your neighbors are talking about.

Dear Editor:

The Flagler County School Board is reviewing the charter of Palm Harbor Academy because of its academic failures. There is also the questionable transference of at-risk children to a shadow "school within a school" to alter test results and, thus, the Academy's performance rating. It is absurd that this school is taking our tax dollars and funneling an outrageous amount to the Academy's owner, Gillard Glover, while the kids under his care are failing and falling further behind their public school peers. This school is an abject failure and needs to be closed.

Now, think of the proposed "constitutional amendment" to take oversight of charter schools from local school boards and place these schools, already barely under School Board control, under state authority. This is a particularly egregious attack on upon home rule, and, if this amendment passes, the Legislature is open to heavy lobbying and political bribes from charter school owners to keep their profits flowing freely.  

This amendment has got to be decisively defeated by Florida taxpayers on Nov. 6. Vote NO to this amendment and keep our local School Board in charge. Stop the assault on home rule, on our taxes and on good public education.

Mike Cocchiola

Palm Coast

First attract businesses, then worry about housing stock

Dear Editor:

After reading Mr. Toby Tobin’s May 17 article regarding “pent up demand” for low-cost, high-density housing, I felt it important to respond and highlight another viewpoint to the unsupported conclusions made in the article.

The fact is, Palm Coast has had the infrastructure for a walkable town center for years in a location conveniently called Town Center. Yet little development has occurred over many years. 

A key anecdote was about a young professional in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, comparing Palm Coast to an urban population center like Washington DC is just not realistic. If you have ever lived in a city, with no car, and no supermarket, buying laundry detergent or cooking oil becomes an expensive, all-day affair with Uber. Our town is not and should not try to make itself into a copy of urban neighborhoods. We have our own charm, identity, and they are likely a big part of part of the reason many of us live here.

Far more important to the development of Palm Coast than small houses, would be the attraction of small/medium businesses. This would provide jobs, tax revenue, and create a booming economy in Palm Coast. Then more retail would develop, and the housing appropriate to the needs would emerge.  

The article also asserts that the necessary workforce will require low-cost housing. That may be valid. But to assume that “millennials who want to use ride sharing services” will be flocking to Palm Coast to fill IT jobs that don’t even exist yet but will if we build cheap housing is more than a little fanciful. 

As far as the housing numbers go, the data is based on existing housing stock and sales volumes. The article concludes from these very small sales numbers that the low sales volume of small residences means that the supply of this type of housing is too limited. There is no evidence to support that conclusion any more than there is to assume that numbers of small residence sales are small because no one wants to buy them.

It seems to me that without the right environment for business and jobs, the only ones who profit from investments in building high-density houses will be real estate agents.

Arne Herenstein

Palm Coast

City Council should listen to residents, not 'arbitrarily make decisions'

Dear Editor:

Toby Tobin's May 17 article, "Palm Coast housing stock is woefully inadequate," is an excellent, complete overview of the city. Identifying a problem is 90% of the work toward solutions.

The very first step to be taken by the City Council is to recognize that Palm Coast is no longer "ITT's Planned Unit Development" whose remote management can arbitrarily make decisions without consulting the residents who will be living with and paying for the consequences of their decisions.

One way the City Council members could become more informed about their district residents' needs would be to publicize their availability for neighborhood meetings upon request.

The next critical step is to address the basic need for public transportation to unify the city. The Flagler Schools bus managers have already solved most of the logistic problems; it is simply a matter of meeting with and surveying the residents and businesses as to their willingness to devote part of the Palm Coast budget to transit service as well as utilizing it when available. Palm Coast and Flagler County could coordinate and financially support a countywide transit system for all residents. Much of the "lack of trained workers" is really their lack of affordable, reliable transportation for school or work.

Another problem identified in Toby Tobin's article, the excellent stormwater management system of swales and ditches that precludes sidewalks, merely calls for a different solution. One idea would be to create "footings" along the banks and install removable grates for walking and bicycling plus solar street lights in appropriate locations.   

Karen Jacobs

Bunnell

Yet another school shooting

Dear Editor:

Any parent who has to live through losing a child by the hands of another child at school is soul-crushing. 

It’s not guns I’m protecting with my thoughts; instead it is the future of our country that gives me great concern.

Last I looked, my gun did not have arms, legs or a brain. It is not capable of shooting anything on its own. Reality is, it is the shooter who is responsible, and these days it's our children doing the shooting!

Today's kids are programmed to be snowflakes, filled with an unrealistic sense of entitlement and are mere extensions of their phones and computers. It seems obvious, and yet no one has the guts to bring up the issue and to say the problem lies with the mindsets of our children. So, I go back to the old school philosophy: Qualities such as character, love, charity, compassion, selflessness, spiritualism, empathy and last but not least, hope, need to be nurtured in the home.

Virginia Arena

Palm Coast

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