Consider community in choosing new super
Last week, Collier County held a board meeting to discuss its superintendent finalists. One who was not chosen, Charles Van Zant, is now a finalist in Sarasota.
WGCU radio station reported that, as part of his interview, Mr. Van Zant said he wanted to reach “unchurched students” in Collier County, to address issues of failing morality and to teach Christian values.
Not surprisingly, during the initial rankings round on Monday, June 5, Sarasota School Board member Bridget Ziegler ranked Van Zant as her second choice, out of four. Tim Enos ranked him third.
Clearly, Ziegler and Enos have not been listening to our community. Van Zant is exactly the kind of individual that Sarasota does not need leading its school district.
His is exactly the kind of thinking that wreaked havoc on board meetings. It’s precisely why the community rejected Vermilion Consulting and why, if Van Zant is chosen, the community will protest loudly against Ziegler’s attempts to turn our school district into conservative Christian Hillsdale College, writ small.
Jill Lewis-Spector, Sarasota
Planned Obsidian affront to neighborhood
Approval for a condo building in downtown Sarasota should be denied for emotional, architectural, cultural and building code reasons.
There is an ambiance to this neighborhood around North Palm Avenue, an arts district of galleries, restaurants, theater and condos that create a magnet for visitors, nightlife and living that is unique to Florida and is kindred to neighborhoods in New York and Lincoln Park in Chicago.
The design of the proposed Obsidian, massive in size and compressed onto a quarter-acre lot at 1260 N. Palm Ave., runs counter to historical decision-making throughout the city, be it the development of the Quay, the Bay Park or the choice for pieces of sculpture.
The 342-foot building, 100 feet higher than any other building in Sarasota, lot coverage, setback and no place but the front sidewalk for its garbage dumpsters will morph this charming neighborhood from a street hosting Fresh Friday celebrations into a narrow passageway – all for the gratification of 14 potential residents.
The details of construction, e.g., dumpsters, building cranes, traffic interruptions and potential damage to surrounding buildings are an affront to the neighborhood and an ode to the ego.
Alan Sprintz, Sarasota
Struggle to maintain NCF traditions
The DeSantis-appointed New College trustees and Richard Corcoran, the interim president they appointed, operate as a single unit.
It’s apparent that Corcoran cares more about playing a college president than actually being one. He can certainly afford to do so given his base salary of $699,000 per year!
More concerned with cosmetics than with academic excellence and a commitment to unimpeded freedom of thought and expression, Corcoran is eager to add fraternities and sororities, a formal athletics program and even a school mascot.
The only three board members interested in New College and her traditions are the student, faculty and alum trustees.
After claiming to have circulated a survey, Corcoran unilaterally selected “the Mighty Banyan” as the New College mascot. Student Board Trustee Grace Keenan argued forcefully that this was something students were never consulted about and sought to delay the adoption of “the Mighty Banyan” until they returned in the fall.
Instead, the DeSantis faction went about squashing Keenan's idea as they've gone about squashing everything else she suggests.
Trustee Christopher Rufo accused Keenan of using “manipulative language.” And with that pointed remark, the matter was settled and the mascot was adopted over Keenan’s objections.
The discussion and vote demonstrate the lack of desire among the interim president and the DeSantis-appointed trustees to work collaboratively with students, faculty and alums. This is a travesty.
Herb Guggenheim, Sarasota
Students need to learn lessons of past
While watching “A Small Light,” an awesome series about Miep Gies, the woman who hid Anne Frank’s family during Hitler's occupation of Amsterdam, I noticed some similarities to the draconian laws recently enacted here in Florida.
Whenever you treat people differently in society because of their sexuality, skin color, religion or ideology, it’s a slippery slope.
If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Schoolchildren and college students in Florida can no longer learn important parts of our history, nor can they learn acceptance and inclusion.
Our governor rails against indoctrination, yet his newly designed New College serves coffee in cups inscribed with Bible quotes.
He is being championed by some as an alternative to Donald Trump. Really? They are both bullies, intent on remaking our society in their image.
No, thanks!Linda Dirk, Lakewood Ranch
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Superintendent finalist Van Zant would be sure to draw protest