Letters to the editor Feb. 10

(In response to Ride on, The Citizen, Jan. 27, page 1)
Thank you Brandon
Dear Editor,
A winter day with sun and smiles, is what the Ortonville Lions Club and the Village Pub in Ortonville provided students from Elmer Knopf Learning Center! A host of volunteers from the Lions Club greeted our students at the Brandon Township Community Park! The students were treated to a fun filled day of sledding thanks to Chris Morris (Lions Club) and Fred Waybrant (parks and recreation supervisor). Moreover, what better way to end a day of sledding? Hot dogs and hot chocolate provided by Amy Guiery of the Village Pub!
This was an extra special day for some of our students who had never been sledding before! Climbing up a snowy hill is almost impossible for a student in a wheelchair, but thanks to the mechanical lift, these students went sledding for the first time! The many volunteers not only brought sleds and a smile, they helped the students every step of the way. “This is the best day ever!”, “I love sledding!”, “When can we come back?”, “I did it!” and “Look at me!” Were among the many things heard that day.
The students and staff of Elmer Knopf Learning Center would like to thank the many volunteers that helped make our sledding trip a success: Brandon Township Community Park, Fred Waybrant, Ortonville Lions Club, Chris Morris, Herb Hogan, Jayson Rumball, Larry Westphal, Lee Palshan, Sue Hogan, Dave Rheaume, Ed Alberston, Dan Barnes, Liz Rheaume, Gene Probe and Amy Guiery!
The students and staff of Elmer Knopf Learning Center, Flint.

From The Citizen Facebook
(In response to: District eyes outsourcing drivers, The Citizen, Feb. 3, page 1)
What about Lansing?
Dear Editor,
This is a symptom of districts cutting costs and trying to pay for costly repairs when residents vote against more property taxes. Learn who our state senator and representative are and reach out to them about this outsourcing. Our Republican State Representative John Reilly, who doesn’t hold office hours in Brandon, only in Oxford and Lake Orion, is very supportive of both privatizing of government services and funding charter schools with property taxes.
Has he heard from you if outsourcing doesn’t sit right with you ? Has he heard your concerns?

Marisa Prince
(In response to: Council eyes new village chicken ordinance, The Citizen, Jan. 27, page 4)

Our vigilant village council
Dear Editor,
The current Ortonville Village council’s concern over chickens in our village amazes me. Do not worry, editor or village residents! This council will not be swayed by 200 plus people who signed the petition for chickens. They will not be moved, not a bit, by actual chicken owners or downtown business’ opinions. Council member Brice is the only one I observed who will, (gasp!) listen to the people who elected her. Imagine that! The planning commission was working on an ordinance, but this council disregarded them and valiantly forges ahead to penalize residents right out of chicken ownership.
I thought real issues are the safety of our children walking to school or waiting for the school bus in the dark while people sped through downtown. No, the real villains are chickens! Those students who wait in the dark every morning for the bus on the corner of Crescent Hill and Mill streets, where the council was told a street light is needed there last fall. Never mind that, we can be thankful there in the dark that our vigilant village council is protecting them from any dangerous wandering hens.
I was worried about high school and elementary students where cars speed around the curve where they cross South Street. I thought a stop sign would help, but I was obviously confused. There will be no proverbial chickens crossing the road at that spot or anywhere, because that is the real danger in our small village.
Carrie Welch
(In response to District eyes outsourcing drivers, The Citizen, Feb. 3, page 1)
Drivers close to students
Dear Editor,
I read with great interest the letter that Brandon Schools’ Superintendent Matthew Outlaw distributed on Jan. 31, 2018 via the district’s email list and hard copy paper to the students to take home. Not one person in this community would argue with the need to provide the best educational experience in the most efficient manner in our schools. I do have some comments on his letter that I believe need some clarification and/or further information.
In his Rumor Control (section 3 of the letter) he states that it is “FALSE” that only a few districts use contracted services for transportation. He notes that approximately 30 percent of schools outsource this function. To me, 30 percent would fall into the “only a few” category. I would change that rumor is “TRUE”. He also references a few districts “in the area” that outsource bussing. Plymouth, Southfield, Ann Arbor and Redford are in our area? And Rochester, Linden, Birmingham and West Bloomfield are barely close to use as a reference in our area. Besides maybe Linden there isn’t a dirt road to be found in any of the mentioned cities. Not a good case. What about Oxford, Clarkston, Davison and Lapeer? According to schoolbusfleet.com, that in 2013-2014, 10 percent of districts brought bussing back in house. Are we going to chance it? I will touch on the Goodrich comparison later.
Dr. Outlaw then states that it is “FALSE” that the drivers will lose their jobs. If your current employer says we no longer employ you—you do not have a job! You say they will be offered jobs by the private company and that the goal is to retain as many current employees as possible. Again, you willing to chance it? Every day I drive by the school sign and it is advertising for bus drivers. You will certainly lose current drivers that will look elsewhere for employment where they do not work 3 hours, return 4 hours later, and work another 3 hours. (Remember the continual ad on the sign for drivers?) Change that rumor to “TRUE”.
Dr. Outlaw then writes that it is “TRUE” that 50 percent of the current drivers can retire. They sure can retire. Only with 25-50-75 percent of their retirement depending on their years of service. Why have they not retired yet? Because they will be penalized for early retirement. If the district decides to privatize, these dedicated men and women who have driven up to two generations of our community will lose out on what they have worked for at the twilight of their careers. Change that rumor to “FALSE”.
Let’s quickly check on the Goodrich comparison since Dr. Outlaw states that it is the most “similar district to Brandon in the state”. We will start at the top. Districts are required to post financials on their websites (Transparency). From these is where I get this data. Any person making over $100,000/year must be listed on this report. Goodrich has one person. The Superintendent at $173,498.55. Brandon has four. The Superintendent at $212,479 and three others that average $156,000. That is $682,750 for four people folks. And they are looking to outsource people making $20,000/year who have served your families for over 20 years? I question why we our top person makes 20 percent more than a district he himself says is our compare. And only 14 percent less than a Clarkston Superintendent at 3 times our size? To put it in perspective. With 2,700 students, your first $250 for every student goes to 4 people. And to the bus driver: $7.40 per student per year. To be fair, I have only included information available on the transparency reports. I did not count in bus cost, fuel, etc. for the drivers but also did not add in any overhead for administration. Only wage comparison.
Dr. Outlaw noted in his letter that currently several administrators are contracted (as with all bus drivers since 2013). Maybe the Board should consider having our administration outsourced to save money. The Superintendent writes in the letter that they are seeking out reductions furthest from the classroom. I say the bus drivers are hands-on closer to the students and classrooms than the administration. The administrators can retire and then get their jobs back through a private company at a savings to our schools.
Andrew Shahin