Bulletin letters to the editorRecent letters dealt with school busing costs, county library construction and District 833 School Board communication.
Bus costs went up with later school start time
I read with interest an article in the July 13 Bulletin about more review for District 833 budgets. One of the main points was to have the Transportation Department come up with three plans by Dec. 3 to balance the budget and end using out-of-district buses.
The use of out-of-district buses was not a problem until the School Board moved the high school start time back an hour. This meant that almost all of our district schools started within 35 minutes of each other. Where we had been moving approximately 15,000 students in three hours, we were now doing it in two hours. This meant that where we were moving about 5,000 students an hour, we were now moving about 7,500 an hour. We had to use more buses and drivers in a shorter time to make up the difference. This also meant that the routes would be shorter and there would be fewer schools on any particular route.
Where a lot of routes used to have up to four schools, now most just can do two schools. By losing this hour, we had to use all of our buses and drivers, and that was not enough. The result was using out-of-district buses for even regular school runs.
Virtually all of our out-of-district special education runs were farmed out to other bus companies. These runs are also the longest and most expensive. Also, before the hour change, we did most of our field trips and sports activity runs. Now, because we use all of our equipment on these shorter runs, it costs more for these field and sport runs.
This hour change was based on a social experiment from the University of Minnesota. It was supposed to give high school students an extra hour of sleep. This was all unnecessary. Anyone with teenagers knows that if you tell them that they can sleep an hour later, they will stay up at least that much longer. The only way that this can be solved is to return to the old high school start time. Any other solution is going to cost a lot of money.
Scherbel is a District 833 bus driver and vice president of the ssociation of School Bus Drivers
School issues deserve public, ‘vigorous’ debate
A recent article in the Bulletin (“Board shuns opinion column use,” July 13) focused on communication problems among 833 School Board members discussed at a retreat.
The main focus seems to have been on how board member Jim Gelbmann somehow acted improperly by raising board issues publicly in the media (a newspaper viewpoint). Gelbmann is accused of “going rogue” by trying to stir up public support for his agenda.
My message to the offended parties is to quit whining and get out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat. School Board members are elected to do what they think is in the best interest of educating the district’s students. If Gelbmann thinks something is important, by all means he should advocate for that, even if it rankles some sensitive feathers.
Further, I would rather that there is a full, vigorous and public debate about proposals rather than limited closed-door discussions, which have an elitist feel to them. Even though I usually don’t agree with Gelbmann’s politics, I must applaud him for being a strong advocate for what he thinks is right.
Unnecessary to build new library
I recently heard that Cottage Grove is next to get a new library. I’d much rather see a minor retrofit, keep the current library and use the hundreds of thousands of dollars saved to keep the current library open longer hours.
I’m not an architect, but the current library seems structurally adequate to me. It’s 27 years old. To me, that seems quite new. I don't think we need another building sitting empty, drawing no tax revenue and building another that will be off the tax rolls. I’ll agree with the city that the City Hall complex is obsolete and definitely needs to be replaced, but I don’t agree with the county that we need a new library just because it’s Cottage Grove’s “turn” to have a new one.
Just because we have funds for a new library doesn’t mean we have to have the money burn a hole in our pocket and build one.