Bring back Nisky bus drivers and save taxpayers $$
A few weeks ago, the Niskayuna Board of Education had on its agenda approval of a bid for special transportation services. This was necessary because an emergency 30-day contract expired and a student needed continued busing service for the remaining school year.
This contract was with yet another private company, Star and Strand, because the current contractor, First Student, chose not to bid to accommodate this student.
My concern is that all this extra time and money is being spent to find workers that, if the district had kept their own staff in place, would not be necessary.
The work would have been done as a matter of course for any district resident's child. Consequently, as a taxpayer, I see this use of community tax dollars, at $247 per day to transport one student, as wasteful.
This inefficient use of public resources obviously erodes any perceived cost savings originally touted as benefits of outsourcing.
Additionally, I am concerned about the district's forfeiture of control that comes with any division of service. The district sold out, most likely, to the lowest (and in the case of First Student, the only) bidder and has little or no say over the decisions made by these private contractors.
Once again, I implore the board to reinstate transparency, accountability and ultimately the safety and well-being of every district student to full district control. Bring Niskayuna's school bus drivers back!
Elise Harrison - Smith
The writer is a former Niskayuna bus driver.
Horse racing is not a glamorous sport
I am so outraged that yet again the headlines are full of horse racing "news." Breathe-right strips on a horse? Really? [May 20 editorial cartoon]. To keep the nasal passages open so he gets more air to run better and further. This is beyond incredible.
For all of those who find the "sport" glamorous -- you fools -- this is all nothing more than animal abuse that is sanctioned. Any idea how many horses are bred before finding "the one?" The one that will make money. So where do all the unwanted go? Off to slaughter, abuse, neglect, that's where. Yes, it's true there are a very lucky few who will find good homes. Most will not.
Has everyone forgotten the scandal a few short weeks ago about the behind-the-scenes mistreatment of these beautiful animals by trainers and jockeys [April 19 Gazette]? Yet, let's get all hyped up about the upcoming Saratoga racing season.
Humans are a disgusting, pitiful lot to always take advantage of the innocent. Shame on all involved in the "sport." You sicken me.
Bond act will help schools, community
The May 20 editorial, "Care about education and taxes? Vote today," mentioned the historical lack of democracy with low voter turnout and high school tax rates.
I think the November election with the 2014 Smart School Bond Act is another opportunity for residents, teachers and students to participate in democracy to improve our education system.
The $2 billion bond act authorizes school districts to allow residents, parents, teachers, students and organizations to participate in the formulation of the district Smart School Investment Plan.
The school district's individual Smart School Plan requires participation, with recommendations for investment of money to enhance classroom technology projects, a community connectivity program, pre-kindergarten projects, selected school aid and school safety- and security-technology projects.
The bond act requires school board members to allow participation by parents, teachers, students, community leaders and organizations in the drafting and approval of the plan.
I know requesting participation requires commitment. But the bond act allows participatory democracy to function in our communities to improve our education system and communities. Parents, educators, students and community organizations need to express their ideas regarding the use of technology to educate and train our youth, young adults and adults.
Furthermore, our elected federal representatives need to know that federal money from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Department of Education will help improve our communities.
In addition, the federal money can help libraries, museums and other community organizations enhance "community connectivity" with their educational services.
The opportunity to improve our public and private schools with shared services and "community connectivity" can improve our values and future.
Wheelies dangerous to motorists, too
Will some motorcyclists ever learn the lessons that unfortunately cost the life of a young man in Glenville recently?
Public roads are no place for pulling wheelies. Wednesday evening [May 21], a motorcyclist with about four fellow motorcyclists accelerated from the Scotia stop light eastbound onto the Western Gateway Bridge and decided to show off and pop a wheelie.
He quickly lost control, went off the back of the bike -- him tumbling behind and his bike tumbling in front of him -- spraying parts all over the road and into vehicles in the westbound lane.
Fortunately, the bike did not hit any vehicles -- a bad bounce and it could have gone through a windshield and severely injured innocent motorists.
So a word the wise: Save your wheelies for a private road/property, where you can only hurt yourself. Exercising such poor judgment should result in the loss of your license and your motorcycle.
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