Monday, August 24, 2009

Life in the fast lane...

Do you have a cafeteria where you work? How about a gym and showers? No? Me either. Our school board does, isn’t that nice for them? Why am I mentioning this you may wonder? I am writing about it because once again the school board’s budget cuts effect my family in a most negative manner.

A few years ago, during yet another budget crisis, our children’s bus stops were re-rerouted through a pretty rough neighborhood. The day before school was to start there was a shooting in close proximity to the stop. I called the bus depot and they changed my children’s bus stop to one closer to our house.

It seems now we are in another budget crisis and one way the Board has decided to remedy the situation is to combine bus stops and not travel off the main roads. The buses will no longer go into subdivisions etc. Which I suppose makes sense. How about stopping in front of the subdivision though? Alas, no, where before the boys had to walk a block to the bus they now walk over a half mile to their new stop. I have no issue with the length they have to walk, I have issues where they have to walk or more specifically: what they have to walk through. To make things worse, they will get picked up at 6:20. Which means they will need to leave the house about 5:50 a.m. They will be walking along a busy street in the dark. Nice. Brilliant thinking Board members, simply brilliant.

One has to wonder why the school board is in such a budget crisis. The state of Florida initiated the lottery and the monies were supposed to go to the schools and fund college educations. For as long as I have lived here the schools have been in crisis when it comes to funding those pesky things like paper. Every year, while the kids were in elementary school, we were asked to send paper in because the school did not have the budget to provide paper for the students. Isn’t paper like a necessity for schooling? Same thing goes for pencils and textbooks.

If one is looking for a reason the Board is having financial issues they need to look no further than the now defunct Choice program which has been aptly renamed School Assignment. Gone are the days where you would buy a home in the neighborhood nearest to the school you want your children to attend. Now if your nearest school isn’t good enough for you or your child, no problem, the district will happily bus your child to whatever school you like. That is if your child is accepted to said school.

When Frodo started high school he wanted to go to the Magnate Music School in St. Petersburg. At that time there was no busing and if we elected to have him attend, we would have to drive him. I calculated the time and distance and advised Frodo there was no way he would be able to attend the Magnate school of the arts as it would have been over 120 miles each day to take him there. If we couldn’t afford to drive him, I surely do not expect the District to pick up the tab and I have no idea why parents should think otherwise.

To make matters worse, the District re-zoned the attendance maps; which meant that the school my children had been attending is no longer the one they would attend in the future. That wasn’t going to work, I wanted all of my children to graduate from the same school. We hadn’t moved. This wasn’t our choice and it wasn’t fair to the kids. They are expected to pick up and move, lose friends etc, it simply isn’t right.

So I have decided to drive the kids into school in the mornings. It is a safety issue for me. Considering we live in one of the country’s worst areas for pedestrian accidents, I don’t feel like taking a chance with my kids’ lives. To the School Board: how about you start slashing the budget in an intelligent manner for once and start by cleaning your own house before you try to come rearrange mine. I just wanted to give you Board Members something to think about as you sit at your desk, munching your cafeteria breakfast while you play solitaire until lunch time where you will quickly run down to the workout room and walk 5 miles on the treadmill. And don't tell me that kinda stuff doesn't go on at the 'Taj Majal' of a school board, remember: I used to work there!



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