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Letters: Competition with charters may improve education in Duval County schools



Nate Monroe’s May 1 column indicates he is apparently upset that Duval County schools are having to cut back on school-based positions and possibly face a few closures. Monroe also seems appalled that charter schools are taking away some funding that traditionally have gone to public schools, using that money at times to pay the rent for charter schools.

Overall, he seems to believe that all these events are a bad thing.

Monroe is either overly dramatic or lacks business acumen. When businesses face a shrinking customer base, they generally have to downsize or find a way to be more efficient if they want to survive. Our Florida public school system now is facing much more competition, so they need to grow with the times. That calls for producing a better product, finding ways to innovate and being more efficient.

The result could be positive for students across the state, because competition generally produces a better product at less cost. Certainly, no one wants to see their old neighborhood schools close, but what is the goal here? Is it just to reminisce about the old days or complain about the changing neighborhood?

I think we should be more concerned about meeting the needs of students, where they can get a quality education at a reasonable price and learn in a safe environment.

In addition, when charter schools rent space, they can save parents and taxpayers money by not having to tie up capital for the purchase of buildings and their upkeep. The public school system’s monopoly on education is slipping away and some folks are unhappy. However, parents and their children can be the overall winners because competition may bring a better education.

Calvin Johnson, Jacksonville

Khan needs to pony up

Spending over $1 billion for a new stadium is only justified upon the firm belief that American football will continue for many years to be a source of great revenue for the team. Plus, they continue bringing in more revenue for the city that hosts them and that the team remains there during that time. How many years are we talking about?

If the city pays for a new structure but the team leaves before completion or unforeseen or events occur that result in NFL games not taking place here, the city will be the financial loser. No agreement not backed by the team owner’s wealth assures some chance of even a partial recovery.

So here is my suggestion to Shad Khan: You build the “stadium of the future.” For each game played in that stadium, the city repays you an amount equal to some established percentage of the total cost divided by a set number of years. Forbes Magazine says you can afford it, and the city will be able to spread its obligation over several years instead of the two or three years it takes to build the “future.”

Yes, the stadium has other uses than Jaguars football, but those uses most likely do not require a venue that houses the world’s largest Jumbotron and that has the capacity of an NFL football game. Yes, the structure of the proposal is quite basic, but — pun intended — build on it.

William Nussbaum, Jacksonville

Another skyscraper? Say it ain’t so

Rick Pariani’s April 28 column woke me up to the plans to build a 44-story building where The Jacksonville Landing was. We have all waited patiently to look from City Hall down Laura Street (once crowned “the best city street in the United States”) to Riverfront Plaza park and the St. Johns River.

We were promised “a 7-acre world-class park for all the people in Jacksonville,” if I remember correctly (which can be doubtful at 91). It is not right that the interests of a few people have superseded the intended use of public property for the benefit of all of us.

We have enough towering buildings on our downtown waterfront and there is only room for a walkway along most of the Southbank. The Northbank was going to rival New York’s Central Park in giving its citizens a better quality of life. This is our last chance to stand up for that dream, which would make our beautiful city an even better place to live.

Will somebody please develop a doable plan for all those who would like to try to save our dream park? What do you want to enjoy and leave behind for your grandchildren — a 44-story building or a world-class park that would also solve downtown’s flooding problem?

Sarah T. Van Cleve, Jacksonville

Developers prevail over constituents

On April 23, after thousands of letters and phone calls over the last three years from residents, businesses and organizations in opposition, the Jacksonville City Council voted 11-8 to approve a 10-story self-storage structure at a prime Southbank location.

These types of storage units are specifically prohibited under current zoning laws and were deemed inappropriate by various city entities, Downtown Development Review Board staff and the Citizen Planning Advisory Committee for District 1. The units have no community support as they do not enhance the fabric and goals of this area.

Why did this happen? Because affordable housing is being placed on top of the self-storage that will operate 16 hours a day, every day. Residents are relegated to second-class citizenship in this demeaning configuration.

Why should this action concern you? Because politicians that listen only to developers and lobbyists over their constituents could silence your voice as well, if your neighborhood is seen as financial fodder for development.

For many in our area, our voices may have been silenced in the April 23 final vote, but our votes will not be. Even if you don’t get involved with a particular issue, pay attention to who votes with constituents and who votes for developers. You will see an obvious pattern. Then you will have the final vote.

Pam Sorenson, Jacksonville

Scout supports net-metering

I am working on my Communications merit badge as a member of BSA Troop 9101 and have been asked to write to the editor of a local publication to express my opinion or share information. I selected something that is important to our family and community.

My family purchased solar panels to create electricity to help the environment and to light our house. We try to use most of the power during the day when the sun is out. However, we don’t use all the energy we produce. The extra energy is sent back to our utility company, JEA.

They pay us for the energy we send back but it is at a very low price, compared to other utility companies in Florida. It is also way below the amount we pay them for electricity (when we aren’t producing it at night).

This matters to us because we feel our home should be net metering. According to my research, “If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backward to provide a credit against what electricity is consumed at night or other periods when the home’s electricity use exceeds the system’s output.”

Thank you for listening.

Kelsey Miller, Saint Johns

The paradox of Israel-Hamas

As protests around the world and on U.S. college campuses continue to grow regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, I personally see destruction, terror and death (inflicted by both). The attack on Israel was heinous and the response brutal.

My thoughts come to the United States: How are we viewed in the Middle East?

I’m sure Israel supports us, for giving them the tools to defend themselves. But what if these same tools are used in aggression? Then, we send food, medical supplies and other aid to the Palestinians after many of those same weapons destroyed infrastructure, killing and maiming over 34,000 to date.

We’ve tried forever to broker peace in this region. But do we really think the supply of soup and a sandwich will create any goodwill toward us? Especially when some of the shrapnel has “Made in the USA” stamped on it?

I do sympathize with the constant threat Israel is facing, but destroying cities and people’s lives will not destroy an ideology. In fact, it may feed it.

God only knows what the solution is — we mortals obviously have no clue.

Gary Schuran, Middleburg

Carney didn’t stand up for public schools

In his May 1 column, Nate Monroe reported that April Carney, the “outspoken Moms for Liberty activist-turned School Board member, became remarkably yellow-bellied the moment the actual consequences of policies she supports became clear for her constituents.”

Carney represents District 2, where A-rated Atlantic Beach Elementary is slated to close. Will voters of Districts 3, 5 and 7 take a lesson from what happened at the beach?

Those three school districts will likely also have Moms for Liberty candidates on the ballot. I hope residents are registered to vote and will send a strong message by voting for the pro-public education candidate, not the pro-charter Moms for Liberty candidates.

I think only 20% of registered voters voted in 2022, when Carney won her School Board seat, so elections matter. Early voting for 2024 takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 5 to Aug. 18 at most public libraries.

Please tell your neighbors what happens when they elect a candidate like Carney — she didn’t stand up for our neighborhood schools.

Susan Aertker, Jacksonville

Just whose back does Trump have?

Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters and other sheriffs around Florida are endorsing Donald Trump for president. They claim that many of their fellow officers join them in this support because the former president “has their backs.”

I cannot decide if one should be shocked, appalled or amused at this reasoning. On Jan. 6, 2021, then-President Trump sat on his hands while about 140 police officers were being injured in an attack in the U.S. Capitol. Moreover, he now has pronounced that those arrested, tried and convicted of assaulting police officers are “political prisoners” and “hostages.”

In addition, Trump says that he will pardon them if re-elected in November. But, sure — he obviously has the backs of law enforcement.

Jim Kavanagh, St. Augustine

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