5 things you need to know happening in Florida on Tuesday, May 15

TAMPA - Here are five things you need to know happening in Florida on Tuesday, May 15.

(1) FCAT emergency meeting

The Florida State Board of Education is holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss the preliminary results of student writing proficiency as measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT).

The Florida Department of Education reports nearly three-quarters of Florida's fourth graders have failed the 2012 FCAT writing exam. That is prompting parents and school districts to question how the test is scored.

Only 27% of fourth graders received the required score of four or better on a scale of 1 to 6. The results were only slightly better in higher grades. Just 33% of 8th grade students and 38% of 10th grade students received passing grades.

The Board of Education is concern of the scores' impact on school grades. There is a recommendation to lower the passing score to a grade of 3.5.

The conference call meeting begins at 10:30 a.m.

(2) Pinellas budget outreach meeting

The Pinellas County Commission will hold a public meeting on Tuesday on the county's budget deficit problem.

Right now the County is facing an $11.9 million shortfall in its general funds because the falling values of homes are causing a reduction in the amount of property taxes collection. In the next ten years, the deficit could climb as high as $37.7 million.

Pinellas County does have a few options. It could raid a fund the county set aside to help get through the economic downturn. Currently, there is $28.7 million in the account but using that money does not help reduce problems in future years.

Another possibly is raising property taxes or reducing services.

You can give your input at tonight's meeting which begins at 5:00 p.m. It is being held at the St. Petersburg City Hall at 175 Fifth Street North.

For more information, visit www.pinellascounty.org/budget/ .

(3) Gulfport domestic registry

The Gulfport City Council will have a second reading on Tuesday on an ordinance that would establish a Domestic Partner Registry.

The ordinance passed by a 4 to 1 vote during a first reading on May 1.

If it passes, the Domestic Partner Registry would grant unmarried couples living in Gulfport similar rights to married couples when making education choices for children, emergency medical decisions, end-of-life choice and funeral arrangements within city limits.

The vote will occur during the normally scheduled City Council meeting which begins at 7:00 p.m. at Gulfport City Hall at 2401 53rd Street South.

For more information, visit www.mygulfport.us .

(4) Rehabilitated manatee released

Lowry Park Zoo will release a young female manatee that was rehabilitated to good health into Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

The manatee, nicknamed Petunia, was rescued on September 16, 2011, from Booker Creek in St. Petersburg.

She was severely emaciated. After eight months of care at the Zoo's David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Hospital, Petunia has added 410 pounds of weights.

The Zoo's manatee rehab team will release Petunia at Demen's Landing in St. Petersburg, just south of Vinoy Park at approximately 9:45 a.m.

The David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Hospital is the only non-profit hospital in the world specifically dedicated to the treatment of manatees. For more information, visit www.LowryParkZoo.com .

(5) Boy with prosthetic device meets Winter the Dolphin

Eight-year-old Damian will have a dream made reality on Tuesday.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, boy was born with Proximal Femoral Focal Discrepancy, a condition that caused his left femur to be 75% shorter than his right. He has worn a prosthetic, which he calls a helper, since he was eight months old.

Two years ago Damian found Winter's Tail in his school library and absolutely cherished the book. He talked about Winter all the time. When the family learned a movie about Winter was being made, they could hardly wait to take Damian to see it.

During the movie, Damian's sister shouted "Look Damian! She has a helper just like you!" Damian says he likes Winter so much because she is just like him and needs a prosthetic device.

Damian is scheduled for surgery in June. His left leg will be to rotate the leg so his ankle will work as a knee. That will allow him to function better. However, he will be in a cast from the waist down for 6 to 8 weeks.

Damian's parents wanted to do a family vacation before the surgery and decided going to see Winter would be the absolute best thing for Damian. He will meet Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium around 8:30 a.m.

Here is the YouTube video Damian's parents filmed showing the moment he learned he was going to see Winter.

If you can not watch the video, you can see it by going to youtu.be/QaXuSSfCkgQ .

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