"Penny" Sales Tax Increase Will Cost You $12,000

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The average West Boca family of four will pay an additional $12,000 over ten years if the proposed sales tax increase is approved. These estimates follow from the numbers stated by speakers at Tuesday’s West Boca Community Council meeting.
Four speakers addressed the audience (note we covered a similar event in February: Avossa and Berger Speak). First up was County Administrator Verdenia Baker. Substantial details of the plan are available on the One County One Penny website.
Like the three speakers after her, Baker was tone deaf to West Boca residents. In her talk she described how the money that would come to “your area” but a closer look showed she was including all of Boca, Delray and Boynton Beach in that area. She also referred to money going to the City of Boca Raton as in “our area” even though most of West Boca is west of the city lines.
Baker indicated that the total amount of revenue they expect to raise from this tax increase is $2.7 billion. In our analysis, with 1.3 million county residents that works out to over $2000 per resident. For a family of four it’s $8000. With average incomes in West Boca higher than for the county, it translates to roughly $12,000 over the ten years. A typical West Boca family of four will spend an extra $1000 on sales tax in the first year, with the number rising to $1500 or more in later years.
Fifty percent of the money from the tax will go to the school district, thirty percent to the county and twenty percent to the cities.
She described a lengthy list of projects that the money is supposed to go to. We have seen this list before and over half the money goes to projects in West Palm Beach. A very small share will benefit West Boca.
Baker briefly answered questions from us toward the end of the event:

The next speaker was Mike Burke, CFO for the school district. He also described various “needs” in the district. To his credit he started off with a funny joke about the jail and he spoke well. But as with the other speakers he was somewhat tone deaf, focusing on projects far from West Boca and apparently not recognizing the difference between the city and the rest of us.
Our post-event conversation with him is below. It became a little uncomfortable in certain moments but we give him credit for his demeanor and his answers.

As a follow up to this conversation we found the report he mentioned. Contrary to what he said the document does not say that projects will be prioritized by need. That may be the intent but it’s not in there.
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Also the report’s descriptions do not match the apocalyptic tone set by Superintendent Avossa, Burke and others.

Finding #3: Of the 196 District schools and facilities assessed, the elementary schools are generally in fair condition (average FCI=15.2%), the middle schools are generally in good condition (average FCI = 13.1%), the high schools are generally in good condition (average FCI = 14.9%), and the ancillary facilities are generally in fair condition (average FCI = 23.1%). The overall District FCI average is 15.0%, which is in the “good” range, but borders on the “fair” range, which begins at 15.1%.

Finally with regard to the schools it should be noted that none of this money will go to hiring teachers or paying them more. It’s only for capital projects.
Next up was Sid Dinerstein, a long-time county Republican leader. After the two previous speakers took a full hour or more, Dinerstein was told he would only have 10 minutes. Dinerstein was also ignored when the event host announced various attendees and left him out.
Dinerstein was by far the most animated and interesting speaker of the four. We caught a brief clip of his speech but he had already left when we looked for him to answer questions at the end.

Dinerstein pointed out that the so-called “penny tax” is a 17 percent increase – from 6 percent to 7 percent. He dismissed the claimed needs asserted by the previous speakers and said the school district is “grossly overfunded”.
He suggested that the main needs of the county are really closer to $400 million rather than the $2.7 billion they are hoping to get from the sales tax increase. Dinerstein argued that it would make more sense to do a $400M bond issue with today’s low interest rates.
Dinerstein demonstrated the same disregard for the West Boca audience. Standing within arm’s reach of Ellen Winikoff he advocated for an extension of the Sawgrass Expressway from Broward into Palm Beach County, an idea that is widely hated here in West Boca. In describing the projects he viewed as necessary they all seemed to be in West Palm Beach, so his approach would do even less for West Boca residents.
The last speaker was Dave Kerner, a state representative who is now running for a county commission seat. He claimed (as did Baker) that 25% of the sales tax would be paid by tourists. If true that only adds to the burden imposed by the recently increased hotel tax to pay for a stadium in – where else – West Palm Beach. They seem unconcerned about or unaware of the risk of killing the goose that lays our golden eggs. If you raise taxes on tourism, tourists might come less often. He also repeated Mary Lou Berger’s February threat to raise property taxes if the sales tax increase is not passed.
Some other interesting details from the evening were:

  • The Lamborghini exemption – Baker said that the sales tax is capped at purchases under $5000, so if you buy a Lamborghini you won’t pay extra sales tax on most of that purchase.
  • Kerner and Baker both denied that sales tax is regressive. This is contrary to well established economic studies showing that sales taxes place a higher burden on the poor.
  • Taniel Shant, who is running against Mary Lou Berger, was in the audience. Shant opposes the sales tax increase.
  • In other news there has been some talk about developers buying the Boca Municipal Golf Course (north side of Glades west of the Turnpike) and building homes. Nothing has happened yet.
  • The proposal to build on the farm behind Home Depot is apparently making progress and may possibly resemble Delray Marketplace.
  • A new park or children’s playground has been built in Watergate Estates (aka West Sandalfoot) and will have a grand opening soon.
  • There has been an ongoing problem with trucks parking on swales on 66th Street (SW 66th we think) and PBSO is working to stop that.

West Boca High Teacher Shot and Killed – Christo Maccius

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Multiple sources and our own research tell us that the shooting victim from this morning was Christo Maccius (25), a West Boca High graduate. Three sources told us that he worked at the school, with one providing more detail:

He was a substitute and shadow for children with special needs.

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The shooting happened in or near the Sandalfoot Square plaza and O’Connor’s Pub. The Palm Beach Post has ongoing updates on the story, including resident concerns about high crime and a report that the shooter had a long-standing grudge against Maccius.
Last year we reported on another shooting at or near the same location.

All photos are from Facebook messages, comments, or pages.

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From what we can see on Facebook and other sources Maccius had many friends in the community, and will be missed.
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We reached out to both PBSO and the school for more information but so far have not received any response. As of this moment we believe the shooter has not been caught. We do not have any identity yet either.
Warning: The photo below may be disturbing to some readers. Do not scroll down if you are sensitive to such things.
And please note that many of the negative comments posted on this article (below) appear to be “trolling.” Some have been deleted and/or blocked from future comments.









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New Principal for Loggers' Run Middle: Edmund Capitano

Edmund Capitano, from his Twitter page
Edmund Capitano, from his Twitter page

The school district announced 13 new principals for schools in the county. Edmund Capitano will take over the helm of Loggers’ Run Middle School after Francis Giblin’s retirement.
Another photo of Ed Capitano from his Twitter page.
Another photo of Ed Capitano from his Twitter page.

Capitano (sometimes called Ed) was most recently principal of Galaxy E3 Elementary School in East Boynton Beach. Galaxy has received press for being environmentally conscious and having a science and engineering focus. The school’s most recent school grades were near the bottom of the county, though their student population is heavily minority and economically disadvantaged.
Ed and his wife Rachel, who is principal at Del Prado Elementary, also in West Boca.
Ed and his wife Rachel, who is principal at Del Prado Elementary, also in West Boca; from her Facebook page.

Before Galaxy, Capitano was a popular science teacher at West Boca High, at least according to RateMyTeachers.com. His wife Rachel is principal at Del Prado Elementary. They are the proud parents of a baby girl, and own a very nice house just off the intracoastal in East Boca.
For those interested in learning and/or following him, see his Edmund Capitano Twitter page.
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In other news affecting West Boca, we mentioned earlier this week on Facebook that Dianne Rivelli-Schreiber of Waters Edge Elementary (west end of Palmetto Park Road) is leaving to take over Calusa Elementary (Clint Moore just west of Military Trail). A replacement for Waters Edge has not yet been announced.
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And Boca High’s Geoff McKee was recently promoted to a regional “instructional superintendent” position. He will be replaced by Vice Principal Suzanne “Susie” King. While Boca High is in East Boca, its zone extends to Powerline between Palmetto Park Road and the county line. Calusa Elementary’s Jamie Wyatt was also promoted. The Sun-Sentinel wrote about those promotions in April.

West Boca Rocks the Cappies

West Boca High celebrates the Cappies evening
West Boca High celebrates the Cappies evening

Boca High and West Boca High both did well at the South Florida Cappies Gala on Tuesday evening at the Broward Center. The Cappies is an awards program for high school theatre and theatre journalism. The South Florida chapter includes 28 high schools, mostly in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
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For the biggest awards of the evening, Boca High won the Musical award and Trevor Wayne won Lead Actor for their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, while West Boca High’s Alexia Assuncao won for Lead Actress in a Musical from their show, Chicago.
Alexia Assuncao (front)
Alexia Assuncao (front)

Other local award winners included:

  • Kayla Goldfarb, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Lead Critic
  • “Brothers”, Boca High, Ensemble in a Musical
  • Lee Alhanti, Marjory Stoneman, Creativity (Shrek)
  • Bridget Foley, Marjory Stoneman, Comic Actress in a Musical
  • Adams, Posner, Chapman and Guin, Boca High, Lighting
  • Kanterman, Morelli, Stricker and Crew, West Boca, Stage Management and Stage Crew
  • Samuel Cadieux, West Boca, Male Dancer
  • John Barnitt, Marjory Stoneman, Featured Actor in a Musical
  • Ryan Lim from West Boca for Male Vocalist

Ryan Lim
Ryan Lim

We previously wrote about the two Boca schools splitting 29 nominations.
Schools in the greater Boca area that participate include Boca High, Deerfield Beach High, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High (Parkland), North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek), Saint John Paul II High (on Military Trail near Lynn University), and West Boca High.
West Boca High celebrated their evening:

Teacher Awards: Coral Sunset, Hammock Pointe & Whispering Pines

This is the second of a series of articles recognizing teacher of the year award winners in West Boca.

Teachers Nicole Scalisi, Deborah Woolsey, and Linda Josaphat
Teachers Nicole Scalisi, Deborah Woolsey, and Linda Josaphat

Thee videos below are from a recent award ceremony with Rotary and the school district. They are available in higher resolution on the West Boca News YouTube channel.
Coral Sunset Teacher of the Year – Deborah Woolsey was named Teacher of the Year at Coral Sunset Elementary School. She works with younger students.

Linda Josaphat was honored as Teacher of the Year for Hammock Pointe Elementary School both for her work with the kids and for her efforts to help other teachers.

Nicole Scalisi was recognized as Teacher of the Year for Whispering Pines Elementary School. Principal Barbara Riemer mentioned Scalisi’s skill in working with diverse students and addressing their learning needs individually.

More to come soon.

Teacher of the Year: Waters Edge, Sunrise Park & Sandpiper Shores

This is the first of a series of articles recognizing teacher of the year award winners in West Boca.
The Palm Beach County School District recently held an award ceremony with the Rotary Club of Boca Raton Sunrise to recognize outstanding teachers in Boca Raton schools. The videos are also available in higher resolution on the West Boca News YouTube channel.
Lindsay Ackerman-Conway was named Teacher of the Year at Waters Edge Elementary School, recognized in particular for her work with struggling readers.

Rachel Smith was recognized for Sunrise Park Elementary School, also for her work with the “most challenging students.”

Sandpiper Shores Elementary School chose Kristen Stern, who attended the school as a child.

Thanks to the school district for providing the videos, and our compliments for the excellent production quality of the originals.

West Boca High and Boca High Musicals Split 29 "Cappies" Nominations

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The West Boca High and Boca High Drama Departments racked up a total of 29 nominations for the South Florida Cappies.

The Cappies, “Critics and Awards Program,” is a program through which high school theatre and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers …

The South Florida chapter includes schools in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Nominations for West Boca High’s performance of Chicago included:

    • Hair and Makeup – Cristina Cautero, Amanda Helbling, Victoria Martin, Missy Varela
    • Costumes – Jewelia Carter, Elizabeth Yarris, and Crew
    • Sets – Ryan Hartman, Cristina Rodriguez, George Said, and Crew
    • Stage Management and Crew – Heather Goughan, Mathew Kanterman, Nick Morelli, Kayla Stricker
    • Male Dance Ensemble

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    • Featured Actress in a Musical – Sammi Frankenbush
    • Female Dancer – Carolyn Castillo

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  • Male Dance – Sam Cadieux
  • Male Vocalist – Ryan Lim
  • Comedic Actor – Matthew Madden
  • Supporting Actress – Hillary Corniel
  • Lead Actress – Alexia Assuncao
  • Best Song – Both Reach For The Gun
  • Best Musical

The troupe is also coming off an outstanding performance at the state Thespian Festival last month.
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Boca High also did well with 15 nominations for their performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
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  • Marketing – Matez and Crew
  • Special Effects – Stewart, Ballarte, Piccin and Crew
  • Sound – Kachur, Lubin, Benedict
  • Props
  • Lighting – Adams, Posner, Chapman and Guin
  • Costumes – Hunsucker, Narino, Schmidt and Crew
  • Stage Management – Hunsucker and Crew
  • Ensemble in a Musical – Brothers
  • Featured Actor – Matthew Moore
  • Female Dancer – Allegra Mannarino
  • Female Vocalist – Channing Ramsey
  • Supporting Actor – Alec Taylor
  • Lead Actor – Trevor Wayne
  • Song – Those Canaan Days
  • Best Musical

Seniors from the Boca High production
Seniors from the Boca High production

Both schools are in the running for Best Musical, along with South Plantation High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and NSU University School, all in Broward. To see the full slate, click – 2016 South Florida Cappies Nominations.
In 2015 Boca High won 5 Cappies for The Drowsy Chaperone and West Boca High won 3 for The Addams Family. West Boca High won Best Musical in 2014 with Young Frankenstein.

West Boca High Mourns Teacher's Passing

Update: The time of the service has been changed to 11 am.
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This afternoon we learned that Diane Donney, a teacher in the ESE (Exceptional Student Education) department at West Boca High, passed away. It appears to have occurred suddenly, though we do not have details as to how she passed.
We will update if and when we learn more about what happened. We reached out to the school and school district and received this early response from Principal Sommer:

It is with great sadness and regret to inform you that one of our truly beloved teachers Ms. Donney, recently passed away. There will be a service at St. John’s Church in Boca Raton (on Yamato Road) this Saturday at 10am 11 am. Grief counselors will be in the Guidance office first thing in the morning for those that need additional support.
More details will follow as they are received, and please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.

Her Facebook page is lighting up with posts from fellow teachers, former students, friends and family.
From Candi Chuburu:

My heart breaks from hearing of the passing of one of the greatest teachers I have ever had, Diane Lamperti Donney. She made the world so much brighter and changed every student’s life she came in contact with. Thank you for believing in us and for making such a positive impact on the world. We will continue to Pay It Forward and make you proud! You will be truly missed – Rest in Peace Mrs. Donney heart emoticon

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‎Anthony Brignola‎ wrote:

You are loved and missed by all. Thank you for asking me to speak to your senior class. You were such an amazing person. The world would be a better place if it was filled with people like you. Watch over me and please keep supporting me like you have been for all these years

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From Raegan Lafferty:

Heaven truly just gained an angel, so saddened by the news of the passing of Mrs. Donney by far the kindest hearted woman I’ve ever met and who was always making the world a better place by paying it forward no matter what, rest in peace, love you

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Zachary Richman:

My heart is in pieces right now…I can’t put into words how much Diane Lamperti Donney meant to me and every student she came in contact with at West Boca High. Taken from us way to soon, my heart goes out to her loving family and children. I love you Mrs. Donney! I know you’re up there looking down on us knowing we will keep paying it forward for you and making you proud!

Brianne Mielke:

I can’t believe what I just found out. One of my favorite teachers from West Boca has passed away.?? My heart breaks to hear this news. She was always such a kind teacher and I love how she stayed in contact after I graduated. She even noted how I inspired her to start living a healthier life and it encouraged me so. I am sending prayers to Mrs. Donney’s friends and family for comfort and peace during this time. ❤ She will be missed dearly

Donney was supportive of her students. In 2010 she nominated a student for a Character Counts recognition.

New Tests for School Kids

Superintendent Robert Avossa of the Palm Beach County School District; all images copyright Warren Redlich, free to use by crediting West Boca News.
Superintendent Robert Avossa of the Palm Beach County School District

Moving forward with progress on the new strategic plan, Superintendent Robert Avossa announced new tests will be added to the schedule for all schools in Palm Beach County.
Hand completing a multiple choice exam.
Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

“We found we just weren’t measuring enough,” Avossa said to a group of parents at Spanish River High School. “Parents were complaining that their kids were spending too much time learning and not enough showing that they had learned.”
He also reassured parents that there is adequate funding for all the new testing. “We’ve got a new sales tax coming, and we’ll also save in other areas by cutting down on unnecessary spending on subjects that don’t matter any more, like music, arts and foreign languages.”
Supplementing the wildly popular FSAs that replaced the nearly-as-popular FCATs, the new tests will be called the FAILs.
The full details are available at: Palm Beach Schools Strategic Plan.

West Boca High School Bulls Baseball Team Barnstorms Through Jacksonville

Story and photos by Alan Shimel, a friend of West Boca News
The WBHS Bulls varsity baseball team took advantage of the spring break vacation to travel upstate to Jacksonville where they competed in a high school baseball tournament held at the Providence School.
The Bulls led by Coach Nathan Underwood took a full squad of 23 players up to Jacksonville for the tourney. While only playing in three games, Coach Underwood was able to get just about every player into a game for some play and experience. The team went 1-2 but were competitive in every game.
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Driving up on Monday the Bulls first game was Tuesday against an overmatched St John Lutheran team. The Bulls big bats came alive early and they won a mercy rule shortened game 16-5. Senior Chris Charlock went the distance for the Bulls in this game as pitcher. Lawrence Ghougasian, Cory Kuchtam Dom Iagrossi and Chris Cavallo were among the almost 20 Bulls players with hits this game.
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The next day’s game had the Bulls moving up in competition against the Bozeman Bucks. Ryan Powers started as pitcher for the Bulls. The Bucks scored a run early and held the lead throughout the game. The final was 5-2. Some excellent relief pitching by Landon Shimel kept the Bulls in the game. The West Boca squad had several chances to take the game but left the bases loaded twice in the late innings.
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The Bulls played their last game this morning before heading back to the confines of friendly Boca Raton. They played Ravenwood HS from Tennessee. Chris Cavallo was the starting pitcher for West Boca. The game was a nip and tuck affair throughout. The Bull lost when Ravenwood hit a walk off sacrifice fly in their last at bat 9-8.
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Win or lose it was a great experience for the players on the team. They travelled, lodged and ate together as a team. Parents were present and encouraged to participate but this is about high school athletes growing up into young men. Road trips like this are important in that process.
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Thanks to the coaches and administration for putting together this trip and to parents who volunteered to drive and chaperone the players. The Bulls continue their season with Senior night on March 31 at home against Iliana Christian HS. Senior night ceremonies start at 4:45 and the game starts at 6. Go Bulls!