If the 1-mill referendum fails to pass, a plethora of downfalls will be bestowed upon the county’s school system — perhaps even doing more damage than those dreaded Active Boards did. The major losses that I find particularly nauseating are the cuts of special programs (athletics, newspaper, arts, music, etc.) and slices in both advanced-placement and dual-enrollment classes — all of which I am a product of, having received my diploma last May.
Currently, I am up in the boonies of Gainesville at the University of Florida, studying and pursuing the very journalism I was exposed to in my awkward days of high school.
Hoping to soak my feet in the business around me, I bundled up my article clippings from The Sarasotan and scurried over to The Independent Florida Alligator newspaper office in hopes of clutching a position on staff.
The Alligator is the nation’s largest distributed student newspaper with a circulation of 50,000 — so my hopes weren’t exactly skyrocketing being that I was a newbie. But, due to my experience at The Sarasotan, I was hired and have had more than a half-dozen of my articles published in a collegiate publication to date.
Perhaps it was my past in high-school athletics that gave me some extra oomph for nabbing the position as a sports writer at The Alligator. If the 1-mill referendum doesn’t pass, then the funding for athletics is going to plummet. Thus, meaning fewer coaches, less equipment and fewer funds for transportation. Having experienced the shortcomings that the athletic program is already facing with cash flow, I can’t even imagine how much worse it could get.
On the SHS girl’s weightlifting team, we had to bust our muscular behinds to fund our T-shirts. T-shirts! Imagine what would’ve happened if we needed new uniforms or equipment? I would have had to sell 500 boxes of candy. Less funding definitely equals more setbacks in Sarasota’s athletic program as a whole.
In my four years at SHS, I was also ringing my way through dual-enrollment (DE) and advanced-placement (AP) courses. Though I wanted to bang my head against the wall due to the intensity of the work, if any other teacher besides AP teacher Steve Mills was responsible for teaching me dual-enrollment trigonometry and AP calculus, I would undoubtedly not know the sum of two and two.
Ultimately, I am succeeding academically at UF because of my exposure to college coursework in high school.
Although SHS indeed has some AP and DE classes, slimming the little courses that we do have to offer would be the opposite of what the county should be doing. Yes, Sarasota County’s test scores are higher than that of surrounding counties — no doubt due to programs such as AP and DE. But, Sarasota County’s student base is exposed to minimal AP courses, while students in other states or counties have the opportunity to stack up mounds of college coursework before they even step foot on a university campus.
Getting admitted into college is a nail-biting process as it is; taking away the competitive edge by taking away the courses that are pushing students into college would truly be a detrimental implementation. Not voting to renew the 1-mill referendum is blistering future college students out of Sarasota in respect to their competitiveness versus other counties students in the college-application process.
If the 1-mill isn’t passed and special programs disappear — expect attendance (in school) to plunge, parting from the impressively low drop-out rates Sarasota currently holds.
Voting yes on March 16 is a no-brainer.
Allison Banko is a University of Florida journalism student and former entertainment editor of The Sarasotan.
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