St. Pete's failing school receives support of city council

Posted by Ellen Kirkland on Sat, Mar 15, 2014 at 11:29 AM

(L to R) Councilman Wengay Newton, Latoya Reed and Nicholas Bent
  • (L to R) Councilman Wengay Newton, Latoya Reed and Nicholas Bent
At Thursday’s meeting, St. Pete’s City Council got welcome relief from the hot button issues it has grappled with since being seated a little over two months ago.

Blarney (defined by the Irish as charming, persuasive flattery) flowed throughout today's meeting. The fare was a buffet of feel-good awards and proclamations.

Maximo Elementary received the St. Pete Promise Award. St. Pete Promise (SPP) is a partnership between the City of St. Petersburg, the Pinellas Education Foundation and the Pinellas County School District, which seeks to assist underperforming schools with “at risk” students.

SPP was created late last year as an umbrella organization for several programs including the Mayor's Mentors & More, Take Stock in Children, the Top Apple awards and the Corporate Partners program.

Maximo Elementary located in South St. Pete is currently rated “F” by the Florida Department of Education and has identified parental involvement as the key to students' success.

The school participates in Parent Academies, a Pinellas County Schools program aimed at increasing involvement. It also has a Pro Dad’s Club and a mentoring program: Each Child-One Champion (which relies heavily on parents as mentors and community support for monthly celebrations of student achievement).

Principal Randi Latzke told the council that new, fun afterschool programs like Mad Science and I-Ready keep kids learning through the afternoon. She went on to say that some students arrive at 6:30 am and receive all three meals at the school and then stressed that the key to student and school success is parental involvement.

Echoing that idea, Councilman Steve Kornell said, “[School] grades are a perception, it doesn’t mean it’s right…Schools can’t do it alone, students can’t do it alone. We need our parents.”

Next up was a power point presentation by Metro Wellness and Community Centers regarding services available to LGBT elders.

The presentation touted the center’s outreach program to homebound and isolated LGBT elders and also discussed the discrimination some gays, lesbians and transgendered folks face when applying for long-term care facilities.

Boy Scout Troop 218 has a lot to be proud of: One of its own not only attained the status of Eagle Scout but Nicholas Bent was also honored today with the Sunshine Ambassador Award.

Councilman Karl Nurse said, "When you write your resume, be sure to include Eagle Scout."

Councilman Charlie Gerdes said, "When you graduate from college, please come back to St. Petersburg and be a leader here, in your own community."

Rounding out the afternoon's agenda, Director of
Special Olympics of Pinellas County
David Haines received the City’s proclamation recognizing Special Olympics week. Thanking the city, he said, “The terrific partnership with the City of St. Petersburg helps to bring athletes from five surrounding counties to St. Pete’s Lakewood High School.”

And last but not least, the city presented a proclamation signed by Mayor Rick Kriseman to the Ancient Order of the Hibernians (AOH), the largest and the oldest Irish-Catholic organization in the United States recognizing this month as Irish Heritage Month.

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