In what several of the candidates said was their biggest public event so far in this campaign, the men and women running to serve on the Pinellas County School Board later this year gathered this afternoon in St. Petersburg at a forum hosted by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.
After hearing the introductory speaker cite a raft of negative statistics about performance in the district, (such as the fact that there are five elementary schools in the county among the state's 20 lowest performers in reading this past year), District 7 incumbent Rene Flowers said, "it sounded like the sky was falling when it comes to our children in Pinellas County," but she assured the audience that she was part of a group in the district who was "moving the needle" when it comes to the scholastic performance of the students she represents. But she admitted that there was still an achievement gap that needed to be addressed.
Flowers will face write-in candidate Irene Olive Cates but not until November. All of the other races are on the ballot right now with absentee voting underway. Cates said there needed to be more parental involvement and a focus on family literacy, not just child literacy.