A coalition of religious groups is asking Pinellas County leaders for improvements in three areas: reducing education disparities, alternatives to arresting youth and funding basic human services. Joining us in the studio for MidPoint were Pastor Manuel Sykes of Bethel Community Baptist Church, Kathy Filippelli from St. Matthews Catholic Church and Rev. Jean Cooley from Lakewood Presbyterian Church. They’re with FAST: Faith & Action for Strength Together. Their Nehemiah Action Assembly is Monday at 7:00 p.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.
For schools, FAST wants to address the high number of out-of-school suspensions in Pinellas. It’s also concerned that Pinellas arrests students for disorderly conduct. And about low reading scores including some schools with as few as 10% of 3rd graders at or above grade level for reading.
Fast wants alternatives to arresting youth, such as civil citations.
It wants basic human services funded to address issues like the 6,000 homeless people in Pinellas. It proposes that part of Penny for Pinellas go toward those concerns.
Some of the accomplishments of FAST in the eleven years since the first Action Assembly in 2005 include full-day pre-k for low-income residents, an affordable housing trust fund, cleaning up drug and crime up hot spots, programs for drug treatment instead of prison and funding dental clinics.
Watch the FAST segment of MidPoint here: