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Letter to the Editor 3.3.2016

An open letter to my friends in Ava and Douglas County:

Hello from way up in North Missouri! After living away from Ava for nearly 15 years, I still “take” the Herald as my Granny would have put it. The Douglas County Herald still keeps me informed of matters back home and I must say does an excellent job as always!

As I have read and kept up on what is going on in the Ava R-1 School System I find myself pretty confused on issues concerning my grandchildren’s transportation to and from school. Friends there is A LOT at stake right now with their safety and the efficiency of the schools district! If you are not reading the Herald and keeping up on this VERY important issue, let me tell you, EVERYONE should!

From my summary of what I have read over the last few months in the Herald, the school is looking to take the transportation responsibilities away from the drivers and run it differently due to financial costs associated with the routes.   The numbers that are publicized do not back up that reasoning. IF the school board allows this to happen, the financial aspect of this will not just affect those whose children/grandchildren ride the buses, but ALL students! IF transportation costs go up, where are they going to get the funding for it? It has to come from somewhere else. That means it WILL in fact come out of another budget line item……it WILL affect all the students in one way or another!

Now, let’s talk safety. First off, I know a little about these bus drivers and bus routes, the students who ride the buses and the parents. My family owned and operated routes for more than 40 years in the Ava R-1 School District and I personally owned and operated two routes for a few years. Folks, keeping up with the mechanics alone is a responsibility that can’t be explained until you sit in that seat! Every little detail, every gauge, every bump in the road, every seat, dirty windows, every spot on every tire, every wheel (how dirty it is could mean a problem), the hoses, the fluids, the fuel, the fire extinguisher, the list goes on and on. As a driver you are responsible for the safety of every child on the bus and you have a relationship with every child on the bus and every parent, grandparent, aunt and uncle. Those children are your responsibility and as a driver you never forget that for one moment!

Part of why a bus driver feels this responsibility is because these children are from their “village” from their community and they have been forming these relationships for years and years and years and they care about these children! I can’t imagine our children being transported by drivers who don’t own and inspect and care about their service to the Ava R-1 School District. You can’t just hire people to have a vested interest in your children, it’s something money just can’t buy. The drivers know every nut and bolt on that bus and take pride in how safe their buses are for the children they transport! Money does not buy that and truth of the matter is, the numbers indicate if the School Board takes the routes away and runs them themselves, it will cost more money than what it currently costs to run it. It just doesn’t add up to be a financial issue. To me it sounds like a control issue… if it is then call a spade a spade. Why blame it on money if it’s not?

Next month is one of the most important school board elections I can ever remember. You may think it doesn’t affect your children if they don’t ride a bus or only have a short ride. I disagree strongly! It does matter to every student! If transportation costs go up, it will be take from somewhere and you can bet it will affect every student! Another thing… if your child doesn’t ride a bus, think about my grandchildren who get on the bus around 7 a.m. and get off after 4 p.m. That’s a lot of time on the bus and I personally want to know that THAT driver has OWNERSHIP in that bus and is INVESTED in the safety of my GRAND-CHILDREN!!!!

When I read Mr. Tredway’s heartfelt plea to the board in last weeks paper, I wondered who all reads the paper and who all knows how important this election is. I am sure the past articles can all be found on the Douglas County Herald’s website. I believe you have to have a subscription for it, but it is worth every penny to be informed of the school situation for our children and grandchildren.

Please turn out and vote at the April school board election. Please read the Douglas County Herald, request minutes from all the board meetings and make an informed decision. If you don’t know who to vote for ask a current bus driver who they feel is best for the safe transportation of the students. I guarantee you he/she will have an informed opinion and be happy to share! No matter who you choose to vote for, please make that decision   an informed decision! That’s all anyone could ask!

Thanks for your time!


Rhonda Strong Wiley