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SRQ DAILY May 6, 2017

"Sarasota offers a quality of life that so many people enjoy. These vibrant businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and boutiques, are the reason people move to the area."

- Mary Dougherty-Slapp, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange

[Community]  Ramping Up For Summer Learning
Roxie Jerde, roxie@cfsarasota.org

Success in early education for children is the key component to a future grounded in opportunities, accomplishments and economic self-sufficiency. However, the fact of the matter is that too many children are entering kindergarten already behind. Too many children are missing vital days at school. And too many children are losing ground academically over the summer. It’s happening right here in our own communities.

Fortunately, we are proud to work in a mobilized and collaborative region that is paving the way in addressing the needs of our region’s students and making a substantial impact on early educational efforts.

Five years ago, donors Mary Kay and Joe Henson partnered with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to prove that philanthropy could support an experimental summer-learning program at Alta Vista Elementary School. Teaming up with school principal Dr. Barbara Shirley, the Eagle Academy was born—aimed at preventing summer learning loss and ensuring that children were reading on grade-level. Over the following years and with support from the Community Foundation and our donors, programs for parents as well as other social services were added to the effort to integrate a two-generation approach in addressing the needs of the students as well as their families simultaneously.

Now, others are building upon the success that philanthropy started. The Eagle Academy became so successful in improving achievement levels that the Sarasota County School District agreed to expand the model into three other elementary schools: Emma E. Booker, Gocio and Tuttle—all schools with a heavy population of students from low-income households and that fall at the bottom of performance results.

So far, each have seen a reduction in chronic absenteeism, a significant improvement in the school readiness of students attending pre-K programs, and a rise of students attending summer learning programs to improve overall reading levels and prevent summer slide.  However, this is only the beginning.

Additionally, together under the banner of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, local philanthropists such as Joe and Mary Kay Henson, incredible school administrators like Dr. Shirley, armies of volunteer mentors and tutors, well-established nonprofit organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, the Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County, Girls Inc. and others, we are ramping up our efforts in addressing summer learning loss with a unified goal of success in early education for at-risk students. 

The bottom line is that we are changing lives for better futures.  Along with all of Sarasota’s other incredible distinctions, we should share community pride in setting the pace in addressing the educational needs of our students and the economic needs of their parents.

As we approach the summer months, for many it can be a time of fond memories attending camps, taking vacations, or getting involved in an educational enrichment opportunity. However, for the families in our community who cannot afford to provide the opportunities their children need during the school break, this time can be a source of dread and a hindrance in their children’s success—not only in school, but in life. Fortunately, our community is stepping up and ensuring that all children deserve a better chance at life.

There is work for all of us, and we look forward to our community continuing to lead the way, meaning new possibilities for students and for our future. As always, I thank all those who are being the ones to make a difference.

Roxie Jerde is president of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

[GCBX]  Vote For Progress
Mary Dougherty-Slapp

Progress: a forward or onward movement or gradual betterment.

We should keep that word in mind when voting in the Sarasota City Commission race on May 9. With three vying for two at-large seats, I encourage you to get out there and vote because it does and will make a difference. Make sure your voice is heard.

Let me tell you a story on progress. When I moved here in 1979, I was searching for a place to shop for women’s clothing. A friend suggested I go to a freestanding department-type store. Unfortunately, everything had an elastic waist—not exactly my style. Another person recommended I try the Maas Brothers in downtown Sarasota, which was similar to a Macy’s back then. To me, this store represented civilization at least slightly similar to what I was used to in New York City. I was told to go straight in the store and get right back in my car because it wasn’t safe to walk down Main Street. I tell you this tale simply to illustrate that so many changes have taken place in the city since then. Now, locals and tourists alike can freely walk down Main Street with no fear.

During this runoff election, we get to choose who will most effectively represent the entire city. Each candidate stands for something, and I encourage you to read about the issues each contender plans to support. This is a chance to work together on solutions that benefit our city and its residents. Issues like homelessness should be addressed to help alleviate the problem and not exacerbate it. Making Sarasota a sanctuary city is not in the best interest for local businesses and city residents! And yet, it is on one candidate’s campaign agenda. There has never been a more vital time to get involved.

You must be a resident of the city to vote in the upcoming election, and while not everyone is fortunate enough to live in the city limits, please remember that a lot of people’s livelihoods depend on that urban city core.

Sarasota offers a quality of life that so many people enjoy. These vibrant businesses, such as restaurants, hotels and boutiques, are the reason people move to the area. These businesses help support that lifestyle and boost our economy year-round.

There were two past projects that people fought furiously against—The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and the John Ringling bridge. They resisted this change for fear that it would impact the character of the city. The bridge is iconic and affords connectivity and walkability between downtown and St. Armand’s Circle. There’s never a time you will drive over that bridge and not see someone walking or running on it, not to mention the spectacular views from the top. Now, we can’t image downtown Sarasota without those two projects.

Our city has only gotten better and better. Vote for your beliefs but also vote for the candidates who are forward-thinking, who embrace progress but understand that change is inevitable. Sarasota is doing well, and it’s a city we should be proud of. Let’s make informed choices and not turn back the clock.

Mary Dougherty-Slapp is exeuctive director of Gulf Coast Builders Exchange.


[Letter from STOP committee]  STOP Seeks Fairness in Planning

STOP! is getting a great deal of attention lately. 

Our call to make public input a permanent part of the development approval process in Sarasota has resonated with the community and gained its way into the public dialogue of our city. We appreciate that the Florida Department of Transportation and the Sarasota City Commission have heard STOP! and initiated greater study and change to the way traffic is managed in Sarasota. We are honored to be invited to speak at the Congress for the New Urbanism’s national conference in Seattle on ways STOP! has worked to create a more vibrant community in Sarasota. 

Our small group of volunteers has worked hard over the past seven months. STOP! has received an outpouring of support from people who want to make Sarasota the best city it can be as we all move forward.  

However, not all the attention has been positive. We are saddened to read a recent flood of attacks aimed at STOP! by folks who want to politicize our nonprofit into a pawn for the upcoming City Commission runoff election. These critics seemed focused on misleading the public about our organization. Allow us to correct any confusion.

STOP! is the citizens group advocating for changes to Sarasota’s zoning code and project approval process. The group was created in the Fall of 2016 and has attracted the support of civic leaders and area residents as active participants, and we enjoy the endorsement of widespread neighborhood and homeowner associations through the city.  

STOP! is focused on three key things. We believe public hearings should be allowed for new large-scale development.  We advocate for better traffic management, not additional lanes of traffic. We strive for greater walkability in the city. 

Anyone who tries to define the mission of our organization differently is presenting an alternative to the truth. To find out more about who we are and what we do, visit our website at www.forqualityprogress.com.

Unbelievably, one of our critics even called our group “un-American.” Quite the opposite is true. STOP! believes that freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas are hallmarks of how American democracy works.  

Our steering and advisory board members, the visitors to our web site, the participants in our public town hall meetings, supporters in the many community presentations we’ve made and the continual flow of emails we receive all seem to highlight a very basic point: citizens should have a voice in the approval process for major developments in the City of Sarasota. That voice should take the form of public hearings.

STOP! wants facts and fairness to be injected back into the growth planning for the City of Sarasota. Our critics should stop slinging mud and join us to improve a vision for the city that moves us all towards a better quality of life.

STOP Steering Committee members Lee Duffey, Mollie Cardamone, Kate Lowman, Bill Noonan, Eileen Normile, Gretchen Serrie, Mike Lasche and Lew Hanan. 

[KUDOS ]  Community Day School Gardens For a Cause

The annual garden harvest at Hershorin Schiff Community Day School collected cherry tomatoes, kale and beets for All Faiths Food Bank’s Sprout Mobile Farm Market. Children from kindergarten through fourth grade, who nurture the garden all year long, picked and ate the produce, grown as part of their outdoor classroom curriculum. The “Sprout Route” truck was loaded and vegetables were delivered to local residents who otherwise go without. Since the garden is pesticide-free, the students are able to enjoy the produce fresh off the vine. 

Community Day School

[SCOOP]  SCD Presents Evolving/Revolving

Join Sarasota Contemporary Dance for the 11th annual Evolving/Revolving Showcase highlighting past young choreographers as well as students that have been nationally recognized for their works in dance. This year’s event will focus on past favorite routines by Artistic Directors Leymis Bolanos and Liz Bergmann, followed by new performances from Alyson Dolan, Kris ‘Tetris’ Powell; a Sarasota local hip-hop success, all choreographed by Erin Fletcher. The show promises to be emotional, physical and highly entertaining.  

Sarasota Contemporary Dance

[SCOOP ]  SRQ Airport Hosts TSA Pre Check Event

The Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) will be enrolling passengers in the TSA PreCheck expedited screening program from June 5 through June 16. TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program that enables identified low-risk air travelers to enjoy a smart and more efficient screening experience. For TSA PreCheck travelers, there is no need to remove shoes, 3-1-1 liquids, laptops, light outerwear or belts. Today, TSA PreCheck has more than 450 lanes at 167 US airports.  

SRQ Airport

[SCOOP ]  CAC Kicks Off The Summer

The Circus Arts Conservatory is kicking the summer off at Big Top Brewing Company’s 3rd Year Anniversary Festival on May 6 and 7. Sailor Circus performances will accompany live music, carnival rides, food trucks and endless fun. Wristbands are being sold in advance online and at the door the day of the event with all proceeds benefitting circus arts outreach programs. A new, hazy IPA will be introduced especially for this Anniversary event by Big Top brew master Josh Wilson, CAC founder and CEO Pedro Reis and tent master Luis Garcia who started the brewing process May 17 in anticipation of the big crowds expected at the celebration. 

Circus Arts Conservatory

[KUDOS ]  To Inform Families First

To Inform Families First (TIFF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting emergency contact registration lead by Christine Olson, the mother of a young woman killed in a traffic accident in 2005. Christine did not learn of this tragedy until 6 and a half hours after the accident happened. Christine has since dedicated her efforts to design an emergency contact database system that would allow law enforcement officers to instantly retrieve information needed to notify loved ones in the event of an emergency. Over 13,000,000 individuals have registered in Florida alone, with 11 different states following suit. This Emergency Contact Information program is a highly effective way to enhance the lives of people, by providing contact information to law enforcement officers during critical emergencies, when every second counts. 

To Inform Families First

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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