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SRQ DAILY Apr 16, 2022

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"We should reject each and every justification and hold this majority School Board accountable for failing our kids."

- Christine Robinson, The Argus Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Historic Win for Affordable Housing
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

Just in the last few weeks, we witnessed a powerful and an historic win for working families who have been struggling to find affordable housing.

Sarasota County Commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $25 million in federal funds (American Rescue Plan Act) that will help build affordable housing throughout our communities. The investment of $25 million dollars will help build out nearly 700 affordable housing units. It is the single largest commitment in terms of investment in affordable housing and creation of number of units that has ever been made by the Sarasota County Commission. Again, historic.

A community-led coalition, spearheaded by Gulf Coast Community Foundation, worked for months to compile a list of recommended projects for the County Commission to consider. The recommendations were debated and eventually supported by the Sarasota County Commission. The goal is for this housing to remain affordable for years to come.  

We are grateful for leadership of the Sarasota County Commissioners. This is an example of a public-private partnership that should serve as a model for future collaborations on affordable housing. 

What is next? Sarasota County staff (charged with the implementation of the ARPA affordable housing funding) have contacted the nonprofits who are providers of the affordable housing. They have set up a debriefing meeting where important information will be provided about agreements and projects. 

Even with this historic progress, Gulf Coast and partners like Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation will continue to fight for our hard-working families who have been “priced-out” of homes. We need to recognize that every family in Sarasota needs a home that they can afford. We must reexamine our policies so that they create incentives to build more affordable housing. While we celebrate this tremendous success, we know affordable housing will remain a top priority for us for years to come.

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

[Argus]  Sarasota School District Sinking in District Rankings
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

District and school scores are published on schools throughout the state of Florida. It is a unique ability to compare school districts and schools and understand where we are at. While COVID has put a hiccup into how these scores are used, and there are no letter grades for most individual schools, we can still compare data points.

The good news is that we are still an “A” school district and that rating is an important one to keep. But we are barely keeping that grade by the skin of our teeth. 

A five-year review gives us four years of data to examine, with one year missing due to COVID. We had been on an upswing since the 2016-2017 year, showing improvements in our ranking, our “Total Points Earned as a District” and our “Percentage of Total Possible Points” until the 2018-2019 year. There was no data due to COVID from the 2019-2020 year.

But we now have data for last year, the 2020-2021 year, and it is troubling. It is the “Percentage of Total Possible Points” that tells us whether we are an “A” District. Unfortunately, we are scaringly only 2 percentage points from becoming a “B” District.  We suffered a 4% drop from the 2018-2019 year and we dropped from being ranked the third best school district in the state to now sixth.

We see more metrics in our schools dropping after they were on a positive rise. Our graduation rate dropped a point and a half after being on an uphill trend since 2016-2017. While we are doing better than the state average, our Math Learning gains overall took a large hit, dropping over 15 percentage points over two years. This is a terrible drop for our kids. Blacks/African Americans saw a staggering loss of 17.7% in this area.

This troubling number on math gains caused me to take a closer look at the achievement gap in Sarasota County in math and I was horrified by what I found. The math achievement gap in Sarasota County is 39 percentage points. Yes, a 39-point differential between whites and blacks. Our differential problem is worse than the statewide problem by five percentage points.

English is just as bad; there is a 35-point achievement gap differential between whites and blacks in English. Our English achievement gap in Sarasota County is six percentage points worse than the gap statewide.

To make matters worse, the state keeps a list of the 300 lowest performing schools in the state and we have a school on that very list, Booker Elementary School. That’s right, here in Sarasota County, we have a school that is low performing. While schools had to opt in to get grades, Booker technically did not get an official grade. But if they had, it would be a “D” if you look at its Percentage of Total Possible Points. 

Finally, we have two unofficial “F” schools— schools failing our kids. Wilkinson Elementary School also did not get an official grade, but is now an “F” school if you look at the Percentage of Possible Points, dropping two grades from a “C” school in 2019. Charter school Suncoast School for Innovative Studies also received an unofficial “F,” down from a “C” in 2019.

This cannot continue. 

As a community we should not accept this and we should not accept excuses because there will be plenty of them.  I can hear all of the rationalizations already: COVID, angry parents (who should be angry by the way), “look over here at this and not at the numbers,” etc. By the way, Sarasota faced these same issues that the three school districts who jumped ahead of us faced. 

No. We should reject each and every justification and hold this majority School Board accountable for failing our kids. They have complete and total control over the budget, policy and their meeting agendas. There is no one to blame other than the image in their mirror. It is time they stopped warring with parents, the Governor and the Legislature and take significant action in academics. We can’t afford to lose this generation.

Christine Robinson is executive director of the Argus Foundation. 

[Higher Education]  Successfully Embracing Change at SCF
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

Change is a constant in our lives – with job and career changes impacting many of us. As our community’s college, the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, is here to help you manage change and has the programs to match your new direction. 

I recently spoke with Stephen Brelsford, a 2021 information technology graduate and finalist for SCF’s outstanding graduate award. His journey with SCF began long before he was a student, tagging along with his mother to classes as she pursued her nursing degree at the college. 

After graduating from high school locally in 2001, he started classes at Manatee Community College but chose to pursue a full-time job instead: “At the time, I felt like going to college was just what people did after graduating from high school. I hadn’t put much thought into what kind of work I really wanted to do, and I was just going through the motions.”

In recent years, health issues made Stephen realize he had to re-skill and find a career that better suited his new physical limitations: “I did have some credits from my previous time at SCF, and those aligned perfectly with the information technology degree I eventually earned. (IT) is a combination of knowing how things work, and making things work. I’ve had a love for technology since my parents got me an original NES for my fifth birthday. You realize things don’t always work how they should, and solving that puzzle is a lot of fun for me.”

Stephen credits professors Jason Reed and Bill Culver with motivating him in his IT classes and SCF’s Disability Resource Center for helping him manage his health issues and stay on track toward his degree: “I was taking a class with each of them when I got the call for my transplant, and they were both extremely understanding and accommodating. Also, Pat Lakey at the DRC was so helpful each semester in making sure I had everything I needed to be successful in my courses. School is not easy when you are trying to manage a major health issue.”

Stephen’s story has come full circle. He started his experience coming to campus with his mother for her pre-nursing courses, and now he works for SCF as a simulation center technician at the college’s nursing simulation center on the Lakewood Ranch Campus: “It’s really an honor to be able to contribute to the education of our future healthcare workers. Every time I look at them, I see my current and former care team, and I’m reminded of how grateful I am to have them in my corner. I want everyone to be able to feel that sort of comfort when it comes to their health.”

If you are interested in following Stephen’s example, the 26 West Center at SCF is preparing individuals for careers in IT and coding. Financial assistance is available through the Open Door Grant awarded by the state. For more information on these and many more technology focused programs and to see how the Open Door Grant can help you go to http://coding.scf.edu.

His advice sums up his story best: “No matter if you graduated from high school last summer or 20 years ago, put yourself in control of your future, find something you are interested in, and go for it. You will thank yourself later.”

When you make that decision, SCF is here for you.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens: Seeing the Invisible , September 25 – August 31, 10am-5pm

The most ambitious and expansive exhibition to date of contemporary artworks created with augmented reality (AR) technology will premiere at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, opening on September 25, 2021 and ongoing through August 31 2022, as one of 12 participating gardens across six countries. Seeing the Invisible features works by more than a dozen international artists such as Ai Weiwei, Refik Anadol, El Anatsui, Isaac Julien CBE, Mohammed Kazem, Sigalit Landau, Sarah Meyohas, Pamela Rosenkranz, and Timur Si-Qin—including several artists’ first work in AR. Visitors will engage with Seeing the Invisible via an app designed for the exhibition downloadable to smartphones and tablets. Forging new links between botanical gardens located in diverse biomes around the globe, the exhibition fosters collaboration between institutions, artists, and audiences, highlighting the power of art to connect people around the world.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Docent-Guided Tour of Arts Advocates Gallery , November 3 – June 1, 11am-11:45am

For the first time since its founding in 1969, Arts Advocates has its own gallery to display works from its collection of Florida artists. Located in the Siesta Mall, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 119, in Sarasota, the opening exhibit features works by Sarasota Art Colony artists. Docent-guided tours of the exhibit are open to the public from 11am to 11:45pm on the first Wednesday of each month: November 3, December 1, January 5, February 2, March 2, April 6, May 4, and June 1. Tours are $10 per person, or $5 per person for Arts Advocates members, and can be booked below. Attendance is limited to 10. Group and special tours can be arranged by contacting Stephenie Frasher, docent team leader, at docent@artsadvocates.org.  

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Discover Sarasota Tours: Sarasota's Leading Ladies , November 10 – May 18

A city tour led by one of Sarasota’s Founding Women: Rose Wilson, Mable Ringling, Marie Selby, and Bertha Palmer, as portrayed by actress and guide Kathryn Chesley. History comes to life on this Sarasota City Tour led by Rose Wilson, Mable Ringling, Marie Selby, or Bertha Palmer, as portrayed by actress and guide Kathryn Chesley. Each week’s 90-minute tour features a different leading founder and focuses on her contributions to Sarasota. Tour ticket includes FREE Parking.

[SOON]  BUSINESS: The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime: Limelight Market , April 23 – December 17, 10am-3pm

Every 3rd Saturday from 10-3 The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime opens their outdoor space for guest vendors, dog rescues, and live music. Check out the 40 local creators and curators inside The Bazaar every Thursday - Saturday. Enjoy a delicious lunch and support local. Free, until you buy something amazing! 

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Farmers' Market at Lakewood Ranch , January 2 – December 25, 10am-2pm

The Farmers’ Market at Lakewood Ranch is home to more than 90 curated vendors of the region’s best food and flavors, located at Waterside Place in Lakewood Ranch. It takes place every Sunday from 10am to 2pm at Waterside Place. It’s your weekend destination for organic produce, meat, poultry, seafood, bread, pasta, juices and prepared foods. Stay up to date on vendors and events by visiting TheMarketLWR.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Ringling: ROAR! , February 10 – April 29, 2:30pm and 10:30am

ROAR! is The Ringling's free storytime program that connects art with early literacy. Every week we read together, make art, and learn about an object in the museum. This program is designed for preschoolers and toddlers, but all ages are welcome. ROAR! will take place from February 10, 2022 to April 29, 2022 at 2:30pm and 10:30am in the Museum of Art.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: The Ringling: Family Art Making (FAM) , February 12 – April 30, 10am, 11am, 12pm

FAM (Family Art Making) is a free program that's fun for the whole family. Join us for creative art projects inspired by an object in our collections from February 12, 2022 to April 30, 2022 at 10am, 11am, and 12pm at the Education Center. Afterwards, visit the museum* to see that object in person. You will be able to visit the Museum of Art and the Circus Museum with your FAM wristband that is provided at check-in. An at-home version of FAM is available on our YouTube channel: youtube.com/TheRingling.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Selby Gardens: Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light , February 13 – June 26, Garden hours.

This winter, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens) will spotlight the work of Robert Mapplethorpe, one of the most significant photographers of the 20th century, together with the poetry of legendary singer-songwriter and poet Patti Smith in a special exhibition on view throughout the garden’s 15-acre Downtown Sarasota campus. Marking the sixth edition of the Gardens’ annual Jean & Alfred Goldstein Exhibition Series, which explores the work of major artists through the lens of their connection to nature, this immersive exhibition puts a selection of Mapplethorpe’s photographs of orchids, hyacinths, and irises, and excerpts of Smith’s poems and lyrics on flowers and nature, in dialogue with new horticultural installations inspired by the two artists’ work. On view from February 13 through June 26, 2022, Robert Mapplethorpe and Patti Smith: Flowers, Poetry, and Light is curated by Dr. Carol Ockman, Selby Gardens’ Curator-at-Large and the Robert Sterling Clark Professor of Art History Emerita at Williams College. The Gardens will host an Evening with Patti Smith, on Tuesday, February 15, a lecture and performance with Smith that will shed new light on this body of work. 

[SOON]  GALLERY: Arts Advocates: Tony Reinemann , March 26 – April 16, 2pm-5pm

Tony Reinemann, Saturday, March 26 – Saturday, April 16, 2022. Fine arts painter Tony Reinemann’s oil paintings have been described as a blend of social and magic realism that evoke a highly exaggerated Edward Hopper in a Hitchcock film. With multiple themes running throughout his works, his sharply defined visuals tell stories limited only by the viewer’s imagination. Reinemann earned a B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York. His paintings have been exhibited at the Museum of the National Academy of Design in New York and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His painting, “Long Island City,” won First Prize in Art Center Sarasota’s Staying Connected exhibition in 2021.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Ringling: Corporeal Decorum by Liony Garcia , April 14 – April 16, 11am and 7:30pm

Liony Garcia is a dancer and choreographer based in Miami, FL. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from New World School of the Arts. As a performer, he has worked with BodyTraffic (LA) performing choreographic works by Guy Weizman and Roni Haver (NL) and Barack Marshall. Locally he's worked under the direction of Alexey Taran with Bistoury Physical Theater and is a founding member of Rosie Herrera Dance Theater. Liony is currently a dancer in Brigid Baker’s WholeProject. He’s worked director Celia Rowlson-Hall on her latest short film entitled Swamp Lake. He's recently worked with filmaker, Claudio Marco Tulli on his film installation, Blasting Pixels. As a solo performer, Liony has performed at Mana Contemporary , International Noise Music Conference and most recently at Bas Fisher Invitational, along with modular furniture designer Deon Rubi. This performance will show on April 14, 15 and 16 at 11am and 7:30pm.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: 1st Annual "Remember When" Vintage Car Show at Water's Edge of Bradenton , April 17, 10am-2pm

The 1st Annual “Remember When” Vintage Car Show will be held Saturday, April 17, 2021 from 10am to 2pm at newly renovated Water’s Edge of Bradenton. This event is FREE to the public! Come join us for Classic Cars, Great Food, Cool Beverages, Door Prizes & Free Giveaways, Craft Vendors and Classic Music from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. We also welcome you to take a tour of the 37-acre campus and experience the over 19,000 square feet of amenities that Water’s Edge of Bradenton has to offer residents. If you have any general questions about the event, please contact Helena at 941-757-2311. To schedule a tour of the property in advance, please contact Theresa at 941-705-4584. Vehicle Registration: If you would like to pre-register your classic car for the event, please download the event flyer at the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dqe7wcrSJoPfnVwE_SMn-Hziusnhm1DF/view?usp=sharing. Complete and return the form on the second page of the flyer along with your $10 donation. You may also register your vehicle on the day of the event at the show with a $15 donation. 

[SOON]  DANCE: Sarasota Contemporary Dance: In-Studio Performance Series featuring Natalie Helm , April 15 – April 16, 7pm

"Bach Immersion III," A collaboration performance featuring Leymis Bolaños Wilmott and Anna Zwanzig (photographer). Natalie Helm explores J.S. Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello as they’ve never been experienced: through a multi-sensory interactive performance, which Helm titles Bach Immersion. Over the course of this three-part concert series, the audience will travel into each Suite’s unique world through a live musical performance alongside a myriad of other art disciplines, including dance, painting, photography, spoken word, fashion design, and food. With guest artists collaborating with Natalie and interpreting the music in conjunction with the audience, Bach Immersion will create a unique and one-of-a-kind experience. This performance will take place on Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th 2022 at 7pm and its Virtual Stream will take place on Saturday, April 16th at 7pm.

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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