Letters to the editor May 19

Real, objective solutions
Dear Editor,
I have been reading the ongoing discussion that originally was about gun control. When all is said and done sir, the issue isn’t about what you know about guns. Or what this person or that person does not. It’s about the safety of the public and our precious children and the prevention of gun violence. Myself and many others, are not concerned with what you know about guns. Unless that knowledge helps in finding a solution, to the innocent being killed.
Guns kill people, the more guns and the more firepower, the more deaths, those are facts. Similar to alcohol, where the more drunk drivers there are, along with higher blood alcohol content, the more accidents and deaths. The laws on driving under the influence, have changed over the years. The enforcement and penalties have increased. The result has been less alcohol related fatalities.
Many bar and restaurant owners, along with alcohol abusers resisted the change. Them same individuals may know more about alcohol and it’s affects That was not preventing deaths. Changing the laws and the enforcement did.
I suggest instead of arguing about spelling, grammar, and other non relevant issues, put that knowledge to use to offer real and objective solutions to gun violence in this country.
While I am not suggesting you are anything less than a good citizen, I believe that is what a good citizen would do.
Tom Sanders
One sided
Dear Editor,
I would like to applaud the recent letters to you from Sarah Allen and Marisa Prine. They certainly brought to light many facts and also questions on why the Brandon School Superintendent is waging a full-out campaign to outsource transportation here in Brandon. The information posted by the schools is rich with one-sided information and certainly questionable in so many ways. Unfortunately I could fill an entire page with examples but will just touch on a few. Sever long-time employees to increase security?
Yes, I noticed an ad here in The Citizen posted by DM Burr for an unarmed security guard for Brandon Schools. Listed pay $11.00. Just shaking my head at that one—really?? I would put my money on an unarmed Brandon school bus driver all day over that one to curtail a threat. Mainly because they know all their parents and where they live—and the kids know it!
On the district web site there is a Q&A where questions are addressed. Someone asked why not adjust pay of administration (my prior letter to you proved how our Superintendent is way over paid for the size of this district) and the reply to the question was that higher pay retained better people. Funny, the district did not think this way when we cut teachers’ pay, froze it, along with offering less benefits to transportation. Ms. Allen’s letter summed it up as we do not treat our community members like this. What needs to be added to that statement is that our superintendent is not a community member, he does not live here, pay taxes here and his kids do not attend “his” school system. He states that current drivers will collect their due pensions and benefits—sounds great, right. But failed to detail that these employees’ pension subsidies start at 10 percent at 20 years of service and go up 10 percent of subsidy every year until full benefits at 30 years of service.
So your driver of 23 years, for example, will only get 30 percent of subsidy when outsourced and lose their job. They will lose a full 70 percent of benefit losing that last 7 years—and many of the drivers are in this scenario. This is truly heartless and a shame to do to our long-time employees. Don’t be fooled—they will not drive for First Student.
And if First Student does not have enough drivers, they bus in drivers from out of state, put them in hotels for two weeks, and then rotate these “rovers’ again to keep routes going. A fact that the Q&A fails to detail. The District says, hey check out their website – they are a great company. And we checked their references—outstanding! It took all of 5 that this company recently paid an $11 million fine for falsifying safety records, and one site I found listed 15 lawsuits where First Student violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for payroll violations. Just one site! minutes to find.
Additionally, First Student owns the title of largest ever payout ($5.9 million) involving employment-related Fair Credit Reporting Act claims by employees. Bet they didn’t mention any of that with their references. Who would even consider this organization for a business partner??? With drivers coming to retirement, why throw them out from a long history of dedication and service to our children. If the district is still on decline (as stated on the Q&A, but prior reports say we had leveled out, so what to believe?) the attrition of drivers will right size itself. That was the plan in 2011 when the board agreed to let that attrition happen.
Hey, that Superintendent (Lorrie McMahon) lived in the community. Her long-term plan was well-founded and has worked fine to date. These deals should not be taken away by outsiders who have not shown us any commitment for long term tenure. Mr. Outlaw states that the transportation department is a lot to manage and that concerns him for the long term. If you took a job and admit you cannot manage it, maybe it is time for you to move on. We may pay for this in many ways long past Mr. Outlaw’s departure. Please voice your opinions community members—this deal is up for vote at the board meeting on Monday the 21st. There may be real reasons that less than one-third of schools outsource this department. I do not want to find out after the fact like Clarkston did years back which had to re-assemble their transportation efforts after taking this back in house from a failed transition.
Andrew Shahin
Bookin’ It For Your Library
Dear Editor,
A huge thank you to everyone who participated and helped with the 7th annual Bookin’ It For Your Library 5K and Dewey Decimal Dash on May 12. We had 500 participants register for the event, a record high, and we raised $6,900 for library programs and materials, another record high!
This event would not be possible without the dedication of all of our wonderful volunteers along the course, including the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), officers from the Brandon Twp. Substation, and countless other adults and students who helped make our route safe and cheer on the runners and walkers. Thank you DPW employees for putting out road barricades, and maintaining our village so beautifully. A big shout out for our wonderful sponsors: Alpine Roofing Complete Inc, Austin Brick Pavers LLC, Bat Removal and Prevention Inc, Blackhawks Auto Repair, Brandon Chiropractic Center, Fitteam by Jenergy, Friends of the Brandon Twp Public Library, Graveldinger Graphix, Hevel Flooring, Hillside Bible Church (who provided our water stop), Jane Derry-Burkett of Morgan & Milzow Realtors, JNJ Plumbing, Kochan Carpentry LLC, Lazer Lines Parking Lot Maintenance LLC, Liv in the Moment Photography, Marr Chiropractic, Mickey’s Construction LLC, Mindset Management Inc, North Oaks Community Church, Ortonville Animal Hospital, Ortonville Fit Body Boot Camp, Oxford Family Dentistry, Pasteiners.com, Provider Claims Management, Wills Family Chiropractic, and YOGA4U. Thank you to the Citizen Staff for all of the great event coverage, Larry Pete for the fantastic DJ service, and to Olivia Stouffer of Liv in the Moment Photography, who did a fabulous job taking pictures of our event! Look for them on the Brandon Twp. Library Facebook page soon.
Robin Loughlin
Brandon Twp. Public Library

No cost saving
Dear Editor,
Keep all bus drivers as state employees. According to Mr. Outlaw the Brandon School District outsources payroll services for 40 percent of the employees at the transportation department. What is proposed is to outsource the transportation department completely to First Student. It is similar to what has happened to our custodial department who are now employed by DM Burr.
Mr. Outlaw has also stated that there are other employees who are outsourced. Let it be clear that it is for payroll services only. Those employees are still state of Michigan employees. The Brandon school district is not a charter school. We should not look to a outsource company to operate our transportation department. It will not provide the cost savings as promised in the long run. It is not in the best interest of all employees and students. Thank you. Lynn Leschuk
(In response to Brandon bus driver, a letter by Sarah Allen, The Citizen, May 12, page 6)
Board doing their
Dear Editor,
Parents and community—being a member of the Brandon Board of Education is a great honor and one that I and all seven members take very seriously. Our board takes great effort to know all of the facts, perspectives and implications for students with each decision that we make. As board president, I have been attending PTA meetings and district events talking to parents and students on a variety of issues. The feedback of the parents has been incredibly valuable and so appreciated as we all work to make Brandon the best it can be for our students.
Unfortunately, one parent has chosen to share half-truths and misrepresentations in her letter to The Citizen last weekend about Brandon bus drivers (Brandon Bus Drivers by Sara Allen…5/12/18). In it, she painted a false picture of the discussion that I had with Oakwood parents on 5/7/18. In particular, I take great offense to her villainization of the Board of Education as well as a number of untruths that she raised to parents in this discussion. To set the record straight, I wanted to share the following:
1. I was at the PTA meeting and my goal was to gain more perspective from a wider range of parents on the topic (We have thousands of parents, but we have had a few very vocal parents that have taken most of the air time on this topic). Yes, I responded to some of the untruths shared by Ms. Allen at the meeting and had a follow-up to all Oakwood parents within a day (https://www.smore.com/u0hmt).
2. The Board of Education continues to weigh the facts on this topic. Board members are considering short-term factors, long-term factors and, most importantly, the impact on the students that we serve.
3. Our drivers are very important to the district just as all of our employees are. This is the reason that the Board of Education has negotiated such favorable compensation with First Student for our drivers and mechanics. If the decision is to go with First Student, it was very important to the board that they were taken care of. Every current driver would get a raise (some with almost a $5 an hour raise), they don’t lose their benefits, they get to keep their union if they want to, they get a $1,000 signing bonus with First Student, paid holidays and free training. I also understand that they would not have to pay into the State retirement system anymore which equates to more than $1,500 a year in extra take home. I know that their retirements are frozen at the current level, but they are not lost. Those that are at retirement age can double-dip for significant financial gain as well. Also, our EduStaff drivers will be treated very well and they would benefit greatly from a change.
4. Retaining our current drivers is also very important to the board of education. The factors listed above would give us the highest probability of retaining them in spite of some of the rhetoric that sometimes accompanies counter-campaigns like this. I care about retention so much that I have proposed that, in the case of a change, Brandon offer a multi-year additional bonus for any of our current drivers to stay. For each year of service, they would receive an additional $1,000 bonus for three years.
In the end, the Board of Education has been doing its homework and will make the best decision for Brandon’s students. We will consider factors including how the considerable savings would impact the district, what would be reduced/not invested in if we continued with the current EduStaff pathway (Brandon has been outsourcing for 7 years with this payroll company…40 percent of the drivers are currently outsourced and this number will grow each year), the long-term viability of the EduStaff pathway, the impact on our current employees and ultimately what is best for Brandon students today and into the future.
While I know that this can be an emotional issue for some, I would encourage our parents and the community to become educated on this topic before coming to conclusions. As we have unfortunately seen, there are some that are spreading false information, rumors and/or half-truths in order to stir additional emotion from the families that we serve. If you would like to learn more, please go to our district’s webpage or contact the district staff for additional information (http://www.brandonschooldistrict.org/index.php/departments/transportation-department). Thank you again for the opportunity to serve the youth of this community.
Diane Salter
President Brandon School Board

Not worth the savings
Dear Editor,
My daughter went to Brandon Schools for preschool. We had an amazing experience with bus drivers. They went out of their way all the time to make my child feel secure and gave her a great experience. She looked forward to seeing her bus driver and talked about them often.
We have since moved and are in a new school district, one that uses privatized busining. We have had may bad incidences and don’t feel they are handled with the same level of urgency or priority. They have a high turn around of drivers.
One thing we miss is the fact that my daughter had the same driver the entire time she went to Brandon Schools. The Brandon drivers knew my daughter and would always go out of her way to make her feel comfortable. I loved the personalization that the Brandon drivers give. I feel like that has been lost in our privatization.
I feel that the students are the ones who suffer from this and it may save a few dollars for the district but it is at the sacrifice of the children. Thank you so much For your time!
Stephanie Roe
Give GFD a workable
Dear Editor,
Seven million dollars! Really?!
You have amassed a huge carry forward and you are letting the fire department go defunct?
Our fire department is not here to make money; it is here to serve “our” Groveland Township community! Around 18 years ago we (the residents of Groveland Township) were told how much better GFD could serve the residents of Groveland, if station two was built and how it would help towards getting a better ISO rating. Station two was built and GFD achieved an ISO rating of four that was recently reduced to an ISO of three and written up in The Citizen newspaper.
What has changed since then, other than you have been running a two community fire department on a one community budget!? I’ve been told you, Supervisor DePalma, stated at the Monday night meeting that for years GFD has not been sustainable. You should have acted as soon as you heard that there was a problem. Years ago you ran on the premise of “No New Taxes” how foolish to stick to that mantra. If the GFD cannot run on the budget you have allowed them, shame on you and the whole board! We are very happy to hear that the Holly transporting is ending.
Levy what is needed based on what allowable mills have already been approved by the Groveland people for the fire millage. If GFD is at maximum mills, bring the issues to the people and let them decide on whether they want to increase the taxes to keep both Station one and Station two and quality fire and medical personnel. The fire millage is the only millage we pay. The surrounding communities also pay for police. Thank you for fighting to keep MSP in the township. A small portion of the money we save by not having a police millage would bring GFD into the “black” and allow you to compensate the employees. The amount you stated at Monday’s meeting is a very nominal amount that I believe we would all pay to keep our fire department solvent for the Groveland Twp. residents. Once you take something away you never get it back!
The board can reallocate some of “our” $7 million carry forward and bring GFD our of the “red” without it being a loan to GFD! Give GFD a workable budget and stay out of outsourcing our ambulance business so the ambulance and qualified medics are always available for the Groveland residents! Maybe the board should do separate budgets for Housing and Equipment and Operating. The fire department operating fund should be a break even venture on their operating budget. The board should never have allowed the Holly endeavor! It is not our responsibility to cover another community, mutual aid is okay, but not as the detriment to the Groveland Twp. people.
As far as your comment, Supervisor DePalma, on how you are 202 percent funded for your retirement and OPEB, good for you, since you and very few GFD already retired people will benefit! Your threshold for what you need to have in those mandated funds is very low. So, it would be easy to be fully funded. You don’t pay any benefits for anyone but yourselves and that is why you are sitting on such a large carry forward. You offer nothing to other employees.
We have been here for 30 years and know Groveland Fire is one of the best! You and the board need to insure that you keep quality GFD personnel and continue to be the best. Use our tax money for what it is intended and increase the funding if needed, so our fire department can continue to do the job for us and be here when God forbid we need them.
Randy and Susan Chesnutt, concerned Groveland residents.

Thank you: Rocking and Raking success

Dear Editor,
Rocking and Raking was a huge success due to so many volunteers! We had close to 70 people raking leaves, cleaning windows, picking up sticks and cleaning out flower beds for our 36 elderly friends and neighbors here in Ortonville. Those work teams were made up of individuals of all ages, Jr. O.C.E.F. board, St. Anne Church, Seymour Lake United Methodist Church, the Ortonville Lions Club, Student Council, Kathy Thurman, Fred Waybrant, Ron Allen and Cub Scout Pack #531. We were also fortunate enough to have a Kitchen crew feeding all the volunteers and the Edna Burton Senior Center allowing us to use their facility for our supplies and meal. A special thanks to Tim Smith and Bo from T.S. Lawn Care, Jeremy Chesnutt from Chesnutt Outdoor Services, LLC and Barry from Bedrock Express. We also had many people donate food and/or finances to make sure this event went off without a hitch-Thank you to Karen & Bob McArthur, Maxine & Robert Stockley, Rumball & Wojktowicz,PLC, many homeowners, St. Anne Church and Ortonville Lions Club. We weren’t able to list everyone by name, but you know who you are and how much our community appreciated your efforts and support. This is one of those community service opportunities that not only benefit the receiver, but enrich the lives of those who were able to give of themselves.
With Much Gratitude,
Candee Allen, Sharon Gibbons, Jayson Rumball and Kim Zernec (planning committee)

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