Wednesday, May 23, 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: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
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Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

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Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
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Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
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Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

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Published: 05/15/18
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Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18