Meal applications available
Pasco County Schools is accepting free and reduced-price household meal applications for the 2020-2021 school year, and will serve free breakfast at 49 schools.
In accordance with the National School Lunch Act, households that are below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines may qualify for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch benefits. Households must complete a new application each school year.
Visit PascoSchoolMeals.com for a link to the online application, frequently asked questions, income eligibility guidelines, cafeteria menus and more.
Schools in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area that will serve free breakfast are: Centennial Elementary, Centennial Middle, Chester Taylor Elementary, James Irving Education Center, Lacoochee Elementary, Pasco Elementary, Pasco High, Pasco Middle, Quail Hollow Elementary, R.B. Stewart Middle, Rodney B. Cox Elementary, San Antonio Elementary, West Zephyrhills Elementary, Woodland Elementary and Zephyrhills High.
For information, call Pasco County Schools Food & Nutrition Services at (813) 794-2522.
Gift card drive
United Way of Pasco is hosting a Stuff the Bus Gift Card Drive for Teachers.
Those interested can donate a preloaded gift card from a favorite school supplies retailer, to be delivered to Pasco County school teachers.
Mail gift cards to the United Way of Pasco, 17230 Camelot Court, Land O’ Lakes FL 34638.
Donations also can be made online at UnitedWayPasco.org/stuff-the-bus-2020.
Deployed graduate returns
Zephyrhills native and 2013 Zephyrhills High School graduate Desiree Moon returned home on Aug. 9, marking the end of a seven-month deployment aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).
After departing its home port of Norfolk, Virginia, in January, for a Composite Training Unit Exercise, the aircraft carrier remained underway and deployed to the Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Moon is an aviation support equipmentman aboard the carrier. Moon is responsible for being a mechanic on all equipment that supports aircraft functionality and safety.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Moon, who has military ties with family members who have previously served.
Moon’s grandfather was in the Navy and retired as a chief boatswain’s mate, and her oldest sister and brother are currently serving in the Army.
Social Work Conference
Saint Leo University has opened registration until Sept. 1 for its sixth annual Social Work Conference, scheduled to take place, through Zoom, on Oct. 2 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The conference is open to social work professionals and interested community members.
The theme is “Strengthening Generations of Families and Communities.”
Presentations will be solution-oriented and topics that may include family or school violence, trauma, mental illness, and obstacles to successful re-entry to society for individuals coming out of prison.
The conference guest speaker is Cpl. Alan Wilkett of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, who has been recognized for his extensive work in fighting human trafficking and training community groups in areas of crime prevention.
Continuing education credits will be processed for $20. Registration for attendees not affiliated with Saint Leo University is $20.
For information, visit SaintLeo.edu/annual-social-work-conference, or email and use the words “2020 Social Work Conference” in the subject line.
Schools benefit from donations
Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano’s five offices collected donations in July for the Pasco County School District’s ABC (Assist, Believe & Care) Program. The program was created to provide financial assistance to students and their families who are experiencing economic hardship, especially when those needs interfere with the student’s ability to be academically successful.
The donations will go into a fund that teachers can use when they see or learn of a need a child may have.
Each tax collector office earmarked $2,000 for a school in need, totaling $10,000 in donations countywide, Fasano said.
The schools chosen by each office to receive funds are:
- Dade City office: Pasco Middle School
- Gulf Harbors office: Sunray Elementary School
- Land O’ Lakes office: Charles S. Rushe Elementary School
- New Port Richey office: Moon Lake Elementary School
- Wesley Chapel office: Woodland Elementary School
To maintain appropriate social distancing, letters with checks were sent to the principal of each school identified.
For information about the charitable giving programs at the Pasco Tax Collector’s Office, call Assistant Tax Collector Greg Giordano at (727) 847-8179, or visit PascoTaxes.com.
Early education rankings
The personal finance website, WalletHub, has released a report on 2020’s States with the Best & Worst Early Education Systems.
WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. The data set ranges from the share of school districts that offer a state pre-K program to the number of pre-K quality benchmarks met and total reported spending per child enrolled in Pre-K.
The quality of early education in Florida ranked as follows (1 is Best, 25 is average):
- 10th – Total State Head Start Program Spending per Child Enrolled in Preschool
- 14th – Share of 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds Enrolled in Pre-K, Pre-K Special Education and Head Start
- 28th – Income Requirement for State Pre-K Eligibility
- 37th – Monthly Child Care Co-Payment Fees as a Percent of Family Income
- 43rd – Total Reported Spending per Child Enrolled in Preschool
For the full report, visit WalletHub.com/edu.