Dear editor,

Just as the Florida summer is peaking and the local kids are getting ready to return to school, the political contention is heating up this campaign season. Most recently, the Santa Rosa County school board race caught my eye when Kenny Long, a candidate for the District 3 seat, said, "I believe the citizens of Santa Rosa County must know the truth. Regardless of how big the paid newspaper advertisement might be, regardless how often it is stated and regardless how many graphs without sources or explanations are presented, it is unacceptable to mislead voters concerning taxes or anything.”

Mr. Long, you are right: misleading voters about anything is wrong! I have seen the graphs, too. I have done some research. Santa Rosa County citizens deserve to know the truth. The millage rate has decreased! The teachers did get a raise! From what I've seen, the school board has tried to negotiate with the union in good faith. As a teacher, you have every right to be upset about the outcome; a raise lower than you wanted. We all want what we think is fair compensation for our work. The union left the teachers out to dry when they failed to sign the MOA with the school board, which can be seen on the school board website.

But…I have gathered you don’t have a grasp on how funding at the county, state and federal levels work when it comes to pots, or colors, of money and the rules and limitations placed against them. When it comes to funding, the county must answer the same as any other organization and clear their books for tax purposes with no hanging money over the fiscal cutoff. Want to piss off the county comptroller? Try to carry money over a funding year. Additionally, you complain about funding “surplus” at the county without considering all the elements the board needs to cover on a “rainy” day. So the “surplus” of money is there for the roof or A/C failure, security updates, and most of all, pay when forced closures take place. As the adage goes, you can’t rob Peter to pay Paul without some disadvantage or incurring debt.

I have come to understand, and appreciate, the SRPE Union Leadership is your single biggest contributor; therefore you will follow its "guidance." But, their “leadership model” is all about fighting — not about working together for the good of the teachers and students. Where is this beneficial to the students and teachers? How will you vote with this influence over your head?  These tactics have no place in educating our youth, unless a teacher uses it to serve as an illustration of "bad faith" in civics class.
 
Carol Boston is about doing what is right! She is about honesty, integrity, being accessible and leading! That's why the union backed her — twice. One vote grounded in integrity and fiscal prudence; after all, she took an oath of office! Not pleased, the union picked a new surrogate, Mr. Long, and two others, to control the county’s largest budget. This should frighten any clear-thinking voter. So…since you are in a political campaign, please put forth some sort of platform, as in problem and solution, instead of the union mantra "She's bad. She's gotta go!" If you desire the job, you need to articulate an inkling of leadership, such as by building sustainable partnerships the way Carol Boston has done instead of tearing someone down. At the very least, present the facts. The numbers don't lie!

JAMES SZEREDY

Navarre

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