Sunday, December 10, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Courtesy bus plan worthy of support

The Hernando School Board correctly picked classroom instruction over expensive courtesy bus rides last week, killing a large-scale plan to bus students living within 2 miles of their schools next school year.

After months of deliberations, School Board members really had little choice. To acquire the necessary buses in time, the purchase order needed to be made last week — the same day board members digested the County Commission's irresponsible rejection of a school impact fee request and the additional dim news that the district faces a projected $2.2 million deficit next year. Pushing forward with a costly busing plan would have been imprudent in light of the district's uncertain finances and fears that classroom cuts could be forthcoming. (New routes cost about $40,000 each in fuel and labor and every new bus carries a $105,000 price tag. )

Instead, a board majority indicated they would support a so-called revenue-neutral option. It is far from perfect, but it is reasonable way to bus additional elementary school children each day. By altering school starting and ending times, the district can ensure existing buses are available to make three runs daily. The extra time allows the district to transport an additional 1,300 children — or all of the elementary students living more than a mile from their schools.

Under state law, school districts are reimbursed only for the cost of transporting children living more than 2 miles from their schools. The district scrapped its courtesy service in 2011 to help close an $11 million budget shortfall, but board members routinely revisit the issue because of the lack of sidewalks around the county and the lingering memory of a 2008 tragedy in which a middle school student was killed when she was struck by a vehicle as she walked to school.

Parents seemed to have grown accustomed to what used to be considered an inconvenience. School Board member Dianne Bonfield, who unreasonably wanted to delay a final decision until January 2015, said she had not been contacted by one parent seeking a resumption of the courtesy service. Other board members wisely declined to delay the inevitable.

Adding bus service for 1,300 children, with no net cost to the district, is a smart plan driven by economic realities. The changing start times will require some juggling, notably for middle school extracurricular activities, but keeping more children safe on their way to and from school is a highly desirable outcome worth embracing.

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Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Times recommends: McClure for Florida House District 58

Voters in Temple Terrace, Plant City and Thonotosassa have an easy choice in the Dec. 19 special election to replace state Rep. Dan Raulerson, who resigned for health reasons. Republican Lawrence McClure is the only credible candidate.McClure, 30, ow...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

Editorial: Still waiting for flood insurance fix

It has been 1,979 days since all heck broke loose in the flood insurance industry. Apparently, that just wasnít enough time for Washington to react. So with the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire on Friday, itís looking increasingly likel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17

Editorial: St. Petersburg should raise rates for reclaimed water

Raising rates on reclaimed water in St. Petersburg is an equitable way to spread the pain of paying for millions in fixes to the cityís dilapidated sewer system. The city has no choice but to start charging utility customers more as the sewer bills c...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17