Sunday, February 25, 2018
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: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the stateís safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last weekís massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Associationís solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nationís conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places ó South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington ó as survivors, victimsí families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasnít enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldnít take months or another tragedy for Florida ó which is hot and full of seniors ó to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. Thatís why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.íí A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he wonít raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trumpís claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nationís 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trumpís rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Itís not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18